R.J.’s “Lost Soles” at InConJunction

10468076_813484258661839_5960947186833888854_nStop by the Speculative Fiction Guild (SFG) Vendor Booth this weekend during the IncConJunction Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention to see the Lost Soles!

So one day recently a certain author of critically acclaimed paranormal thrillers bought a multi-pack of socks that should have fit….but didn’t! Bummer! Perfectly good socks, unworn, doomed to go to waste. But, Mrs. R.J and the “Nerds In The Making” all chipped in to hand-stitch and draw on each and every “Lost Sole,” made of new, unworn sock cotton. So come check out the Lost Soles, or you can adopt a hand-crafted Sole for $5 each.

Friday and Saturday only. while soles last. Look for the “dryer” display at the SFG Vendor Booth.

While you’re there, check out the array of books by SFG members John F. Allen, Matthew Barron, Eric Garrison, R. J. Sullivan, and (in the booth next door) Crystal Leflar. Hope to see you there!

Haunting Blue Book Trailer 2014 Goes Live

blue switch 1Three years ago, a new author took on the challenge of putting together his first book trailer. He had ambition if no experience and he perhaps took on more than was reasonable or necessary, but he also had a lot of help from his friends. I’d like to take this space to again thank Ash Arceneaux, who created the original art and edited the final video, high school drama teacher Scott Siler, who created the audio track and provided the voices of Gunther and Chip, and Sami Susterich, a former student of Scott’s who volunteered to voice Blue for me.

Yes, voice-work. Did I mention I had a lot of ambition? While the results were not perfect, they were also none-too-shabby, and these people put a lot of time and effort into the clip we created.

Blue CloseupWhen the book went out of print a few months ago, we also removed the book trailer. With the re-release, I could have chosen to start over, but….that was a LOT of work the first time and most of the trailer was still pretty rocking. So I turned to my friend, author buddy and someone also none-too-shabby with digital editing, Eric Garrison, who attacked my wish list of edits and did what was needed to let me reuse most of the old clip. So here it is, polished and back in service, and also showing off the fabulous new work by Bonnie Wasson, the book trailer to Haunting Blue!

Click here to see Seventh Star’s book trailer announcement and link.

 

Haunting Blue Print Proof Photo album

140606-151332The print proof of Haunting Blue arrived in the mail today and it looks amazing. After a quick look-over to confirm the accuracy (or fix a bitty thing or two, if needed) the paper copy should be ready to go very soon. In the meantime, I got a little silly and took a few photos of the series you can see here.

The e-version is already live. Here’s the order page.

Haunting Blue, a look back, a look forward

Art by Bonnie Wasson
Art by Bonnie Wasson

I spent the last part of Memorial Day Weekend and thru Wednesday night re-reading Haunting Blue front to back, checking the publisher proof against all revisions, ensuring that this will be the final, most accurate version of the story. It’s an odd thing for a writer, looking back on an earlier work.

Because our craft is one of constant growth, I can say without apology that if I were to start over from scratch, if I were to pen the first book in the Adventures of Blue Shaefer today, it would be a very different book than what it is now. I’d like to think it would be a better book.

An author’s writing is like a time capsule, at least to the author. As we gain experience, beginner’s mistakes become more obvious, tangents that we might have thought better of stand out more clearly.  I have heard that some authors, at least privately, have a tendency to disown, or try to disassociate themselves from, their first works.

Art by Bonnie Wasson for the new edition of Haunting Blue.
Art by Bonnie Wasson for the new edition of Haunting Blue.

And while I “get it” to some extent, as I reviewed the work, head to toe, I can honestly say I am still very proud of Blue Shaefer’s premiere adventure. Yes, she’s melodramatic, over the top, and, yes, I roll my eyes at certain moments in the novel. When the time came to re-release the book, I had a choice to make–I could have gutted and rewritten the tale, or simply tweaked the text to address the bigger errors but otherwise let it stand as a time capsule of the start of my journey as a published author.

The great Harlan Ellison recently observed about his own early work (and I’m not comparing myself to a genius whose career goes back decades–this just happened to resonate) “I look back over my earlier stories and say, ‘eh, the kid did the best he could with the tools he had at the time.'”

I think this is very true, along with other factors. One that is obvious to me is my “everything plus the kitchen sink” approach. I thought of Haunting Blue as my one shot, maybe the only novel that I might ever put out, and I put my all into it, because who knew when the next book might get published. This is another factor that contributes to the drama of the tale.

Art by Bonnie Wasson for the new edition of Haunting Blue.

Of course, I now know, and am blessed to be assured, that I have plenty of readers and a publisher very anxious for my next story. And my next, and my next. I don’t need to “put it all out there,” which brings far greater focus to my later stories, a benefit to my readers as much as myself.

Another reason to tweak rather than gut: it’s fair to observe that when I drafted my angst-driven high school punk girl, I was much closer to her age than I am now. Who am I to second-guess how much of my narrative is genuine, when I’m much further from the source?

So starting tonight, and into tomorrow, courtesy of Seventh Star Press, Haunting Blue goes back into print, with the major ebook formats, and the softcover hits a couple days later. It is slightly tweaked, with a new cover and interior art by Bonnie Wasson, a new poem by Nicole Rinaldi, (who also wrote the pieces in Virtual Blue). The softcover will look quite spiffy next to Haunting Obsession and Virtual Blue, giving the trilogy a unified series look for the first time.

Haunting Blue is a paranormal thriller, an edgy first novel by a new voice who did the best he could with the tools he had at the time. Having just re-read it, it still moves me and accomplishes what I intended. I still love it, and if you’re experiencing the story for the first time, I hope you will, too.

Go here to watch the links go live.

Haunting Blue Cover Reveal!

BlueI’m thrilled to announce that Seventh Star Press officially unveiled the cover for the officiall re-release of Haunting Blue, plus they announced a release date for the ebook! The softcover will go live a few days later.

Read all the details here!

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.

 

New Virtual Blue Book Trailer now live!

Art by Bonnie Wasson
Art by Bonnie Wasson

Today Seventh Star launched the official book trailer to Virtual Blue, a collaborative effort with local fan and cosplayer Nikki Howard, who opened up and tapped her inner troubled punk girl. Thanks, Nikki, you are awesome! Special thanks to Eric Garrison for editing the pieces together for me so fast and efficiently.

So enough from me, check it out here!

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.