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.
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!
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!
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.
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)
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!
Yesterday 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.