You can now go to YouTube and listen to one of my more popular stories “The Assurance Salesman” performed by my audiobook narrator and Team RJ VIPDanielle Muething. No, this is not a preview, a scene, or a chapter, this is the entire, complete and unabridged short story, nearly an hour of audio, and you can listen to it for nothing.
What’s the story about? Here’s my nifty one sentence pitch:A man in black disrupts five weary travelers sharing a passenger train carriage to claim he literally holds in his hand the answers to their deepest questions.
Intrigued? Cool, go check it out. No catch, no gimmick. I simply ask that if you like what you hear, you consider going here to support our efforts and buy more similarly awesome tales. Same author, same narrator, but… you know… more. If you do, thank you very much. If not, that’s okay, times are tough. Maybe later. I still sincerely hope you enjoy this free hour. Also, please Like and Subscribe and Comment while you’re there.
This Darkwhimsy Books audio story production includes a cover image by my digital 3D artist and Team RJ VIPNell Williams, and includes one of my favorite intro / outro music tracks “Rezonata” by composer, keyboardist and Team RJ VIPJan Pulsford. Thanks so much to everyone for the hard work you all put into this.
“The Assurance Salesman” is part of my short story collection Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy. And do I even need to say… an audiobook is coming in the near future!
NEW for 2020 Haunting Blue, my first published novel from 2010, is my second audio book release, and that release is now live. Published by DarkWhimsy Books, Haunting Blue puts Danielle Muething back in the narrator’s booth to repeat (and dare I say exceed) the amazing and dramatic performance similar to Haunting Obsession (Click here to order the Haunting Obsession audio book).
This makes my fourth Imaginarium Convention (because that’s how many there have been), a terrific readers and writers con in Louisville, KY, started by Seventh Star Press partly in response to some odd and disappointing trends at other conventions in the area (which this year became all too apparent, but never mind). From the start, it’s been a great con to surround myself with people of immense talent, to mingle, gossip, and just generally pretend I belong there. Catch up with friends, hang out with buddies, and stand in the corner in amazement at being in the same room with still others.
Without breaking it down into those sub-categories, some of the authors I’m particularly excited to see are: John F. Allen, E. Chris Garrison, Matthew Barron, Kat French, Sela Carsen, Selah Janel, Elizabeth Donald, Lucy Snyder, Gary Braunbeck, Mchael Knost, Michael West, Dan Jolley, Dave Creek, Arlan Andrews, Ericka Kahler, Armand Rosamilia, Stephen Zimmer, Demetrius Witherspoon, Bishop Stevens, Jason Sizemore, Janet Hariett, Tony Acree,and many, many, many more. (No, I am not linking these names because I want to have this done before the event itself, but you should Google them all).
I may have name-dropped a bit in that last paragraph. It’s all good.
Now, since I know a lot of you will be taking the trip specifically to see me (or let’s just pretend that’s the case, okay? We authors have gigantic but fragile egos), here is my panel schedule:
Sat, 5 PM in the Cumberland Room: Exploring Today’s Universe of Science Fiction
With Dave Creek (Moderator), Bethany DJ Kesler, Eri Nelson, Gerald L. Coleman, Sarena Ulibarri, and Dr. Arlan Andrews.
Sat, 6 PM in the Goldenrod Room: Paranormal Literature
With Lori Roberts (Moderator) Barb Jones, Jacob Floyd, Monica Corwin, and Lorena Reith Jr.
Sun, 11 AM in the Derby Room: Finding the Right Critique Groups
With Carma Haley Shoemaker (Moderator) Kristi Bradley, Juanita D. Houston, Marian Allen, and Geoffrey Mandragora.
And did I mention, the vendor room is completely free to visitors all weekend long! That’s right, there’s no charge to show up and shop a room chock full of talented Speculative Fiction authors and their books. I’ll be there in the Seventh Star section not too far from John and Chris most of the time. So come find us and say hi. I’ll be fully stocked with my catalog of titles, and as always, autographs are FREE and worth every penny you pay.
Imaginarium is an awesome author and reader con that continues to grow every year. From Indy, it’s an easy day trip. If you’ve never been, you need to check it out. I hope to see some of you there!
The larger world shared by E. Chris Garrison and R.J. Sullivan (they even co-wrote this blog post)
E. Chris Garrison and R.J. Sullivan: two great tastes that taste great…
Let’s start over.
Chris and R.J. met at an author’s retreat in 2011. At the time, Chris had released her first editions of the Road Ghosts Trilogy and Blue Spirit, and RJ had released the first edition of Haunting Blue. Through discussion and the group readings that happen during author retreats, they found that they tend to think in similar ways on such topics as character archetypes and styles, which made them fast friends.
Chris’ skills as a brewmaster may have also had something to do with this.
Their first venture into “crossing their universes” was a character to character fictional interview blog that proved a lot of fun. Eventually, they decided that using each other’s characters and settings in a shared universe made sense dramatically in certain instances. Over time, they found that telling tales that affected a larger world also made for a fun marketing ploy to coax sales. They drafted a simple agreement between themselves to work it out, and they have been trading characters and building upon a shared universe ever since.
Having set the stage, let’s look at how Restless Spirit, Chris’ latest release and the reason you’re here, is part of that world.
This second book in Garrison’s Road Ghosts Trilogy (written under a previous byline) marks the debut of Skye MacLeod, a cheerfully drunken gamer girl involved in a vampire live-action roleplaying game. The main cast encounters her as they attempt to save a poor little lost tween ghoul from a greedy opportunist who’s in league with a demon. Skye literally stumbles into trouble as she is possessed by the demon and forced to do its bidding. While this possession is temporary, Skye’s life and destiny are changed forever.
When the Trilogy ended, Garrison wanted to do something different. Skye was the first character she thought of to star in a spin-off series.
Set in 2010, the first novel by R.J. introduces flamboyant punk girl “Blue” Shaefer, her computer savvy boyfriend “Chip” Farren, and Chip’s best friend Phil Jenson. Against the backdrop of a creepy Indiana small town with a legendary secret, Blue and Chip meet, fall in love, and try to solve that legendary secret. Their efforts end up releasing a ghost and dark hi-jinx ensue.
The aforementioned spin-off of Garrison’s Road Ghosts Trilogy, this first book in the Tipsy Fairy Tales features Skye telling the story from her own point of view. She tells us a tale of her misadventures as a transplanted gamer girl whose life is permeated with the supernatural fairy world only she can see. Having grown up in Chicago, Skye never needed to learn to drive, so she takes the IndyGo buses or bums rides to get everywhere she needs to go. On one such bus, on an especially bad day, Skye meets a short, scruffy, gnome-like person who calls himself the Transit King. Skye sees past his sketchy appearance and recognizes him as a fairy lord. He proceeds to offer his assistance (in return for a promised favor) that further tangles Skye in high stakes supernatural politics.
In many ways, this first encounter not only drives the rest of the Tipsy Fairy Tales and provides Skye with a mentor, but introduces the Transit King as an unlikely favorite character from this book among readers and author peers. Chris was surprised and honored when later asked by R.J. if he could “borrow” the mysterious character for his own books.
In this sexy ghost story, frustrated geek girl Loretta Stevens boards a bus while fuming over how rudely she’s been treated by her boyfriend. She and Daryl had come to the local mall to shop for a birthday present and possible engagement ring for her, only to watch as Daryl instead buys a piece of overpriced Hollywood memorabilia connected to the long-dead gorgeous 50’s icon Maxine Marie. Disgusted, Loretta leaves him standing in the store, and she must now rely on public transportation to get back to her car.
On the bus, as she reflects on their relationship, a strange, creepy fellow with a thick accent advises her to wait for Daryl at his apartment. “Normally, I just…get travelers to their destinations…I’m just the Transit King, after all. …Follow yer instincts, not yer pride.” Yes, this is the same Transit King who plays such an important role in Garrison’s Tipsy Fairy Tales, making his “debut” in the R.J. verse.
Loretta ignores this good advice, to her regret. She learns that her boyfriend has been ensnared by the ghost of Maxine Marie herself. Maxine, now a sort of super-specter, is strengthened by the energy generated by her millions of fans, especially Daryl. The ghost is feeding off him, and he’s fading fast. Desperate, Loretta seeks aid from Rebecca Burton, an investigator of paranormal phenomenon who wields mysterious powers. Loretta learns that Rebecca’s role as a government agent is a cover that allows her to move about freely as she prepares to play a major role in an upcoming battle with the forces of evil.
The year is 2013, and Chip Farren and Phil Jenson are now students at I.U., roommates living off campus and ambitious game programmers. They’ve released a beta of Fantasy Free-Form, their multi-player heroic fantasy computer game. Blue travels to Bloomington over Thanksgiving weekend to sort out her complicated feelings with Chip about their relationship.
The three of them are unaware that the game has been targeted by a cult of demon worshipers who think they can use the game’s virtual environment as a focal-point to summon a demon, creating a portal from their dimensional prison in hell to the video realm and then from there into the real world. Fortunately, Rebecca Burton is already aware of the situation, and she’s employed a talented young woman to assist her–Skye McLeod. Before the night is over, Blue will nearly lose her life and her sanity, and Skye will have to find the inner strength to confront Rebecca and force her to do the right thing. Phil and Skye will also begin an unusual friendship that continues in…
In the following summer of 2014, Skye finds herself still underemployed and dependent on her girlfriend, Annabelle. Phil Jenson has taken the step of promoting Fantasy Free-Form at Big Con, an enormous gamer convention in Indianapolis, and has hired Skye on to use her charm to draw con-goers to try out the game. She’s delighted at her apparent good luck when Rebecca Burton calls her. Rebecca has heard rumors of supernatural activity at the convention, and she wants to hire Skye to watch out and report on anything suspicious. Trouble soon finds her, in the form of one of her gamer friends somehow amassing a zombie army, some meddling trolls, and an ancient horror lurking underneath the center of Indianapolis. She goes to visit her old mentor, The Transit King, who has become far more powerful after the events of Blue Spirit, and he gives her some cryptic direction and magical aid–with his usual price tag. Unfortunately, Skye gets pulled into the supernatural events more than any of her employers care for, and when one problem crashes into another, she feels forced to set them against each other, unleashing a type of hell into downtown Indianapolis in the process. She loses the support of Rebecca and the Transit King, and puts other relationships at risk, but Phil sticks with her to the very end, helping her make slightly more sober choices to undo what she’s done.
The story doesn’t end there. Garrison reports that Phil, Blue, and Rebecca return for the climactic third book in the Tipsy Fairy Tales series, Mean Spirit! So stay tuned for future Garrison/Sullivan character crossover fun!
About the author: E. Chris Garrison writes fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories. She used to publish as Eric Garrison, but has since upgraded.
This Saturday marks my fifth consecutive appearance at the Paranormal Meet and Greet at the Historical Hannah House on the south side of Indianapolis.
My first appearance was as a new author in 2011 with my then-brand new first novel Haunting Blue.
My second appearance was for the book launch of Haunting Obsession, where reader / fan Nikki Howard enthusiastically cosplayed my sexy ghost Maxine Marie on a cosmic lineup of events–the book came out the year of the 50th anniversary of the real Marilyn Monroe’s death, and the event took place 50 years and within a day or two of her death. (And if I told you I had no idea that things would align the way they did when I started planning it, I wouldn’t believe me, either.) It was a lot of fun and we sold a lot of books that day.
Since then, I’ve been a part of the Paranormal Meet and Greet every year it’s taken place (they took a year off in 2014). It’s a fun day, pretty easygoing, at a truly unique and lovely landmark, and the people there are kind and enthusiastic about real-life paranormal investigations. I hear some incredible stories every year.
This year, I’m sharing a booth with other SFG Booksellers, where we’ll have plenty of horror and ghost story books to choose from. And Maxine Marie is going to “haunt” the grounds of the Historical Hannah House. This time she’ll be “channeled” by local model and reader Madison Kae Scroggin, who’ll be mingling with the crowd and posing for pictures while she puts the “boo” in boo-boop-be-doo. (Yeah…I don’t know what that means, either, but you don’t want to miss it).
You’ll find plenty of copies of my paranormal trilogy and my short story collection. (I’m temporarily out of stock of Commanding the Red Lotus)
Cash and Credit Card payments accepted. Autographs as always are completely FREE and worth every penny you pay.
The 10th Annual Paranormal Meet and Greet is a FREE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC EVENT Sat, Aug. 13 with extended hours from previous years: 11 am-6 pm in the lawn of the Historic Hannah House at 3801 Madison Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46227. Click this link to go to the Facebook Event Page. I hope to see some of you there!
This year marks my fifth consecutive year at one of my favorite science fiction conventions, InConJunction, on the east side of Indianapolis, and I’m super-excited! For one thing, this will be the first time I’m bringing a science fiction book to a science fiction convention!!
Yes, that’s right, I’ve been doing just fine all these years selling ghost story and scary stories to a crowd that’s much more in tune with spaceships and laser guns, so now for the first time I’m bringing those, too. I’ll have plenty of copies of Commanding the Red Lotus on hand along with my back titles of ghost stories and my short story collection. I’ll be there with my Speculative Fiction Guild buddies as well, mingling, talking SF, dancing badly, and taking pictures of great costumes. Joining me in our space will be John F. Allen, Matthew Barron, E. Chris Garrison, and convention newcomer Maurice McKeirnan.
It’s my pleasure to host a special blog interview on the eve of a new release by one of my favorite storytellers, editors, and publisher entrepreneurs, Mr. D.L. Russell. Almost a decade ago, he started the e-zine Strange, Weird and Wonderful when the idea of delivering magazines via an electronic file download was still new and not in wide use. D.L. used SWW to explore that potential and built SWW’s reputation as a place to find new, talented voices in dark fiction and as an outlet that discarded word count in favor of giving storytellers the room they needed to tell their story. I am proud to be counted among the new voices that first appeared within its electronic pages.
D.L. has since shut down SWW and branched out into themed anthologies under the publishing label Black Books Publishing. It’s first release, 21st century Black Erotica, sets the tone for how D.L. intends to push boundaries and offer his press as an outlet to examine all realms of subject matter.
His latest anthology shows a return to dark fiction with Illuminati at My Door, an exploration of secret societies and those who dare to find them and draw their attention.
Hi, D.L. On the surface, secret societies have been a part of speculative fiction for a long time. Can you tell us why you felt that now is a good time to return to this particular idea? Perhaps it, maybe, seems particularly appropriate to the time we live in?
The main reason is because I don’t feel these stories have been told from an accurate perspective of the common man. This anthology has nothing remotely related to the “last honest man,” constantly looking over his shoulder as he attempts to tell the truth before it’s too late. There are no Fox Mulders in this anthology. In fact, it’s just the opposites, with the main requirement of each story being believe-ability and a straightforwardness usually bypassed in such stories.
In some ways, editing a short story magazine and editing an anthology would be very similar experiences. What makes anthologies a different experience for you? Do you have a different mindset when you consider the submissions? What priorities do you have to consider that differ from magazine fiction?
When we were doing Strange, Weird, and Wonderful, each issue needed to have enough variety to please readers of several of the Spec Fiction Sub-genres. We never had a problem getting the scary stuff, but there were times when it’s all we had to go with and I had to make calls to writers I’d worked with on earlier issues to see if they had any Fantasy or Science Fiction pieces.
With anthologies, it’s the basic or detailed theme of each story that ties the book together. With Illuminati at my Door, the basic theme was if an individual was approached by a member of a secret society, how would they handle it? Especially in today’s world, where secret societies and conspiracy theories are everywhere; almost every major and minor event is branded with its conspiracy element.
Talk about your stable of authors. I know you maintain contact with your SWW contributors. On a new anthology like Illuminati at My Door, how many new names appear in the collection and how many are talents you knew from before who stepped up for you? Did any of the “old guard” surprise you in new ways, or did you discover a new talent that appears in your pages for the first time?
One of my goals as an editor and writer is to maintain good relationships with people I’ve worked with, including other editors, writers, and even artists. We’re all at different stages of our careers, but I think by maintaining those positive relationships, we’re able to cross those career barriers.
There are a couple SWW alums that came on board the Illuminati at my Door project; one was Mary Patterson Thornburg, who is a retired Ball State University English Professor, not only supplied the Foreword, but also has been Copy Editor for every title Black Books Publishing Inc. has done to date. I’d have to say my relationship with Mary is the best example I could give a young editor to keep your professional relationships positive at all cost.
The other is Matt Adams, who’s an Indy native and appeared in SWW with a story I fell in love with called “Old-Fashioned Police Work.” When I contacted him about the theme of Illuminati at my Door, he liked the concept and wrote “What the Network Wants” relatively quickly.
As for new talent, Ronder Scott, Melanie Williams, Rosie Maureen, and Natasha Cage all had limited publishing experience but their stories show no signs of inexperience. The hardest part about working with a newer writer is getting beyond any hang-ups they may have as far as an editor requesting changes to their work, but every one of these women kept an open mind until we had stories they could live with as writers, and I could accept as a publisher putting together an anthology.
In all honesty, I feel this is the best group of writers I have every worked with on an anthology. I’m very proud of the job everyone did and the professionalism they all showed throughout every stage of the project.
What prompted the changeover from the magazine to standalone anthologies? Was it a personal decision or was it something brought on by a shift in the industry?
It was simply a financial decision. Strange, Weird, and Wonderful was a free ezine, our payments to writers and artists weren’t being covered by the minimal advertising we were generating so Sharon Black and I made the decision to start SWW Publishing. Two years later I wanted to do a few projects that didn’t quite fit under the SWW umbrella, and Sharon had a few things she wanted to work on, so we parted ways, and shortly after that, Black Books Publishing Inc. was born.
The more I think about it, it was publications like SWW that helped put our industry in the financial pit it can’t seem to get out of. Readers have come to expect their stories for free and their novels for 99 cents. We created that monster, and now small publishers and self-publishers don’t know how to fix it. I’ve seen publishers give away thousands of copies in a given advertising campaign and never recoup those sales through actual purchases.
We are the only form of entertainment battling this issue and I think publishers should band together and agree to certain standards when it comes to pricing, and giveaways. If we could guarantee a high quality standard for our work, I think readers would embrace it.
What is the long term vision for Black Books Publishing? The website indicates a couple of exciting imprints coming in the near future.
Long term, I would like to amass a library of books that are well written and entertaining. I’m being picky on purpose, with the titles I publish and there’s a reason you haven’t seen a novel from us yet. The saying, about 1st impressions is true. I don’t know if we’ll ever be a prolific publishing company, but I do know each book published will be the best we could accomplish at that time.
This is defiantly a marathon for us, not a sprint.
When you recall what you had in mind for Illuminati at My Door and considering the finished book, how close did you come to hitting your expectations for the collection?
I think its spot on! I wanted strong writing, good stories, and no “last honest man, looking over his shoulder while trying to get to the truth,” kind of stories. Again, I think this is the best anthology I have ever put together.
Yes, I hope the next one is even better, but this is my best work as an editor and selector of stories to date.
Give us some short one-sentence teasers to some of the stories contained within Illuminati at My Door.
I would rather just tell you each story is based on an actual secret society rumor. Most have been around for years, others have not, but each is based on something that’s already floating around out there. Readers who follow those rumors will easily recognize where the ideas came from and those who don’t follow them will simply be entertained.
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.
Just a quick note to announce the very exciting news that the interview that John F. Allen and I did as the Two Towers Talk Show with Agent Carter Staff Writer Brandon Easton has gone live on YouTube. In it, we learn Brandon’s struggles as an up-and-coming writer, what it’s like to be part of a modern TV show staff, and lots laughs mixed with life lessons.
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.