I’m very excited to announce that my first novel-length science fiction novel Commanding the Red Lotus has been finalized and scheduled by Seventh Star Press to go live over various formats next week.
Money Can’t Buy Respect
Sayuri Arai, privileged daughter of a corporate mogul, abandons a promising career to find her own path. She invests in a broken-down asteroid mining ship and steps in as the commander of its crew. Every day presents a new challenge just to keep her ship from falling apart and the bitter crew from killing each other. Can Sayuri unite the feuding factions, or will her rivals turn the entire complement against her? Commanding the Red Lotus offers a classic sense of wonder for today’s science fiction readers.
This weekend, I launch into convention / book fair season with a fun gathering in Madison, Indiana. The Book Fair hosted by That Book Place is going on its sixth year (I hooked up in year two and haven’t missed it since). Although the store is no more, the event continues at the Madison National Armory (1533 Clifty Drive, Madison, IN 47250) and through the store’s owner, Frank Hall. Click here to join the Facebook event. I will be there Saturday only.
The event has grown every year, and this year it is bursting at the seams. Food vending (cash only) will be available onsite for authors and guests. Credit card payment will be accepted for author’s books, and they will be offered at a discount from regular price. The event is free to get in, and with it now indoors in a convention hall, there’s no reason not to check it out.
I am attending Saturday 10 am-6 pm only. Festivities continue through Sunday. John F. Allen and I will be roaming the space as The Two Towers Talk Show doing short interviews with authors as time permits.
It’s time for an R.J. Friday Update, meaning, I have an update and it happens to be Friday.
Commanding the Red Lotus, my first official novel-length collection into spaceship sci-fi, has a tentative target release window. Seventh Star Press is closing in on the week of April 22 to launch the ebook and paperback. It might shift a bit sooner, but it lines me up to premiere the title at Indiana Comic Con the weekend of April 30th as the first event where I’ll have copies on hand!
At the same time as the release of the novel, Seventh Star Press will re-launch a revised edition of the first novelette of the collection, Fate of the Red Lotus, as a perma-free ebook download. That means you can check out the first 12K words of Commanding the Red Lotus at no risk whatsoever. Then you can purchase the novel to continue the story after you already know you love it.
I’m super-excited about getting this book out to my readers. In the meantime, after considering the choices among my basket of ideas, I’ve picked my next project and am rolling up my sleeves to settle back into drafting mode. I’ll say more about that in the months to come.
And while I’m writing, I’m also partnering with my TV and movie loving buddy John F Allen to launch the first few episodes of our YouTube program The Two Towers Talk Show. Watch for a post linking you to the first show, coming in a week or so. I’m also prepping for the start of convention season and one of my favorite annual events, the That Book Place 6th Annual Authors Fair in Madison, IN for Saturday, April 2nd.
With my science fiction novel Commanding the Red Lotus due out in a couple of months, I wanted to take an author photo that reflected my love of the genre as well as the content of the book. I tend to take themed author photos anyway, something Seventh Star Press peer Michael West and I have in common.
In any case, I had an opportunity to pose in front of a green screen while local A/V guru Frank Smith III was filming John F Allen and I for the opening credits of our upcoming Two Towers Talk Show. I asked him to take a few still shots and drop a background behind me, and wham, bam, a near-instant author photo was created.
It speaks to my love of SF, and also has a not-entirely-intended callback to The Adventures of Superman, and what the heck, that ain’t a bad thing.
The official black and white version to be used in the novel:
I must say, I do rock in this, and my super-power of gut-suck was used to great effect. So another component has fallen into place. The manuscript is with an editor, and soon Seventh Star Press will officially reveal the awesome artwork created by Enggar, and the book will be out in time for convention season. I can’t wait to share it with you all…well, actually, I guess I can. But I’m very excited for that day to come. Stay tuned, there’s lots of excitement ahead!
I sat down in the midst of the holiday insanity of last December to Skype with Kim Smith, the charming hostess of the Writer Groupie Podcast, and talked about my favorite topic for 40 minutes: me. Specifically, she asked about my ghost stories, my love of science fiction, and asked about my upcoming release, Commanding the Red Lotus. She also asked what advice I’d give to an aspiring writer.
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?”
Hello, and welcome back! I hope everyone had a great holiday and is staying warm through the dreariest time of the year for us Hoosiers. Indiana winter weather always poses challenges; it affects schedules and vehicles in negative ways and always brings a bit of a letdown after the optimism of the holidays. This winter is no exception.
Typically, the holidays and the first couple weeks of January are the time I stop writing and try to recharge in anticipation of returning to my regular schedule when the view out my window is a tad less gloomy. That didn’t happen this year. I took on a new short story project over the holidays, which I completed last week. I also wrapped on the draft of the third Red Lotus story. Let’s look at those one at a time.
First, last fall, Pocket Books and Paramount announced a Star Trek Strange New Worlds Contest, requesting original Star Trek fiction to be considered for an upcoming anthology in 2016 to celebrate the program’s 50th anniversary. I swore off fan fiction some time back in high school, but, Star Trek (and by Star Trek I mean Captain Kirk and The Original Crew) is not only one of my favorite TV shows, but probably one of my favorite anythings, and it certainly served as the gateway to a larger appreciation of SF. My love for Star Trek continues undiminished to this day.
On the one hand, I fully understand that my chances of earning one of the twelve coveted slots are only slightly better than my chances of successfully riding a unicycle down the street without losing my balance. Over a sheet of ice. During a wind storm. But on the other hand, the chance to contribute an “authorized” tale of the Starship Enterprise proved too great an attraction to ignore. If I didn’t do it, I realized, I’d always wonder what might have happened.
And so, two days before the January 15 deadline, I turned in “The Fittest,” a first contact tale in which Lt. Uhura gets into a heap of trouble during a planetary scouting mission.
And if it doesn’t get picked for the contest…well…it just might show up as a free download somewhere, someday.
Prior to the Star Trek contest throwing off my plans to take it easy (or as easy as I ever can during the hectic holidays) I managed to bring my third Red Lotus SF tale to a conclusion and get the draft out to a few pre-readers for their evaluation. That process is going forward, and should wrap up in a couple of weeks.
The result of that will be my first novel-length entry into the spaceship SF genre, Commanding the Red Lotus, to be released by Seventh Star Press. The book will include all three Red Lotus tales gathered into one volume and released as a softcover paperback for the first time: Fate of the Red Lotus (a previously released novelette available in ebook only) Red Lotus: Innocence Lost (a previously released novelette available in ebook only) and Mutiny on the Red Lotus (a 30K word novella which will be new to this collection).
In the meantime, Seventh Star is pushing forward with the production. I have just signed off on the cover to the release, and it’s pretty amazing. Enggar, the same SSP artist who created the cover for Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy, has a knack for space opera, and he channeled that talent to create an incredible cover for Commanding the Red Lotus. Watch for a follow-up post in a few days where I’ll unveil the art in all its glory. We are still aiming for an April release.
Speaking of April, keep the Indiana Comic Con in mind, as that’s a new event for me, where I hope to have all of my titles on sale, including Commanding the Red Lotus. Indiana Comic Con is at the Indiana Convention Center the weekend of April 30-May 1. It’s going to be the biggest event I’ve participated in as a vendor, a pretty star-studded event–and I’ll be there, too. Details to come.
I think that’s it for now. Just wanted to let you all know I’m still here and things are pushing along behind the scenes, and 2016 is shaping up to be one of the most exciting yet!
I’m pleased to be able to host a stop on the blog tour of my good friend and awesome author John F. Allen. As part of his critique group, I’ve read Codename: Knight Ranger as he was writing the various components of it. If you like Iron Man, Captain America, and the Six Million Dollar Man, you need to see how John plays with similar ideas and makes them his own. That’s why for this guest post, I asked him to pick the heroes that had the biggest impact on his writing. Let’s see what he said….
List the top genre heroes when you were growing up that influenced your writing today.
Batman I fell in love with Batman from as far back as I can remember. Before any other heroes, there was the Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight Detective and the senior half of the Dynamic Duo. I could say it was his humanity that drew me to the character, and I suppose that is in part the truth. However, I must admit that the dark, tragic origins of the character were equally as influential to me. I love flawed, human characters. Batman was a tragically flawed human, who used his means to become the protector of the streets in his city of Gotham and a terror to the criminal element.
Shaft John Shaft was my hero. He was the street smart, charismatic, sarcastic ladies man on the surface, but he was also the intelligent, courageous and selfless hero who stepped up to the challenge when he was called to it.
Spenser I read my first Spenser novel, by the late, great Robert B. Parker back in 1980. I was drawn to the character’s morality, veracity, wit and compassion. Sure, he was a tough guy in the mode of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, but he was also an intellectual and gentleman.
From the first time I read about the adventures of V.I. Warshawski, the tough as nails female private eye created by Sara Paretsky, I fell in love with her wit, swagger and propensity for getting into harrowing situations. However, the one thing that stood out about her the most was her self reliance and autonomy. She wasn’t the typical “Damsel in Distress” and could roll with the fellas, but still be a lady.
Wonder Woman was the strong, beautiful and wise heroine who embodied hope and peace. As a fan of the comics and the 70’s TV show, I was drawn to this larger than life female who could juggle cars, but was also compassionate to the weak and downtrodden, who sometimes were at best an afterthought to others.
Black Panther was the epitome of the positive depiction of a black male in comics. He was a King, he was a genius, he was extremely wealthy, brave, benevolent and strong. Growing up during the 70’s, the depictions of black males and black people in general were largely stereotypical at best. Black Panther served as an inspiration of what black characters should be.
1) Conan the Barbarian/Tarzan of the Apes
2) Steve Austin (Six Million Dollar Man) – he almost made it, but is in the Top Ten.
3) The Shadow/Doc Savage
4) Sherlock Holmes
5) Captain James T. Kirk, Captain Jean Luc Picard and Captain Benjamin Sisko
About the author John F. Allen is an American writer born in Indianapolis, IN. He is a member of the Speculative Fiction Guild and the Indiana Writers Center. He began writing stories as early as the second grade and pursued all forms of writing at some point, throughout his career. John studied Liberal Arts at IUPUI with a focus in Creative Writing, received an honorable discharge from the United States Air Force and is a current member of the American Legion. John’s debut novel, The God Killers was published in 2013 by Seventh Star Press.
John currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife, son and daughter.
Codename: Knight Ranger: Captain Alexandre Cornelius “Neal” Du Bois is a US Army Ranger and decorated war hero. When his unit is ambushed by supernatural hostile forces while in Afghanistan, only Neal survives. When he wakes up in a secret government facility, Neal discovers that his whole life has changed forever.
A shadowy government agent named Elijah Bishop arranges for Neal’s brain to be transplanted, without his permission, into a bio-engineered body capable of amazing feats. Armed with advanced body armor and weaponry, he becomes the epitome of the Ultra Soldier.
To protect his family and those closest to him, he must let the world and everyone he loves believe he is dead. With assistance from Dr. Avery Clarkson–the scientist responsible for his new body–Neal reluctantly utilizes his superhuman abilities to work for Bishop and his organization called G.E.N.E.S.I.S. (Global Espionage Network of Elite Supernatural Intelligence and Surveillance), in order to track down those responsible for the slaughter of his unit and keep the world safe from supernatural terrorist forces.
Tour Schedule and Activities
11/2 On Cloud Eight-and-a-Half Guest Post
11/2 A Charmed Life Review
11/3 Creatives Help Board. How may I direct your call? Author Interview
11/4 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author Guest Post
11/4 Book in the Bag Interview
11/4 RJ Sullivan Top 5 List
11/5 Darkling Delights Interview
11/6 Beauty in Ruins Guest Post
11/6 Sheila’s Blog Guest Post
11/6 Bee’s Knees Reviews Review
11/7 The Infamous Scribbler Review/Interview
11/7 Vampires, Witches, & Me Oh My! Top Ten List
11/8 Sapphyria’s Book Reviews Guest Post
So I thought we’d try something fun for this month. Everywhere you look, people are taking selfies and posting them on social media, and of course, it’s also coming up on Halloween, so I’m asking my readers now thru November 1 to post a selfie while holding any of my books. (Ebook fans: A tablet with the cover showing works, too) When you post the selfie, post a link to my website, or an Amazon order page, or Barnes and Noble, of some sort of similar book page. Any link that allows your friends to go check out my books.
“Sure, RJ, sounds like fun,” you reply. “But what’s in it for me?” Good point, loyal but sensible reader. (I have such smart readers.) So I will sweeten the pot. So if you do that and also share your selfie on my RJ Sullivan Social Media Selfie Costume Party page on Facebook, I’ll send you the first scene to the final, not-yet-released third story of my Red Lotus saga, tentatively titles Mutiny on the Red Lotus. (The first scene, I have on good authority, has lots of shooting and ‘splosions.)
But wait, there’s more! It IS Halloween, so if you pose with one of my books in costume, I’ll send you a free copy of Blue Christmas (a holiday short story featuring Rebecca Burton and Blue as featured in Gifts of the Magi) ORFate of the Red Lotus, the first novelette in the series. Your choice of story and ebook format.
You can dress in whatever costume you like…but if I may make some suggestions, my book series has plenty of dramatic characters to choose from, such as:
Special appreciation will be given to costumes of a certain 80s pop singer or a certain Mermaid.
Got a police costume? A doctor or nurse? Haunting Blue and Virtual Blue have a few characters to connect with. And that fast food uniform may come from the Southern Chick’n Stop, or there’s ex-cheerleader waitress Loretta from Smittie’s Pizzeria. And any high fantasy character can come from the Fantasy Free Form video game of Virtual Blue.
And don’t forget the large cast of supporting characters who are…well…people! Yes, you can claim a cosplay award by “dressing as” these plainclothes supporting characters: Clinty the Bully, Mr. Farren, Chip and Phil (though you should look a bit nerdy), high school teacher Mr. Tyers, Leona Shaefer, Blue’s Dad, …
You get the idea, use your imagination, post those costumes, and let’s have some fun! Hurry….come November 1, we all have to act normal again.