EVENT: That Book Place Book Fair, Year 6

authors fair 6
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.

rj at 5th
This photo of RJ at the 5th Annual serves as a reminder to take more photos at the 6th Annual.

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.

I’ll be at my table or mingling with the crowds all day while selling and signing copies of my books: Haunting Blue, Haunting Obsession, Virtual Blue and Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy.

So join us for the fun! You can see my photo albums from previous years by clicking here and here .

Red Lotus Novel Coming into Focus

RL series bannerIt’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.

Two TowersAnd 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.

Details on all this excitement coming soon.

EVENT: 5th Annual Authors Fair

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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 fifth year (I hooked up in year two and haven’t missed it since). I can’t express enough how grateful I am for book stores in little communities like That Book Place in Madison, IN, and its owner Frank Hall, who goes far above and beyond with events like these to support us local authors.

But first, due to some recent political ugliness that has nothing to do with representing true Hoosier values, Frank offers the following to all guests:

“This store has been and always will be open to everyone. We are a safe haven for people to be themselves with out fear of harassment or ridicule. Everyone is welcome to their own opinion and we accept that, but Bigotry is something that is unacceptable.”

Frank speaks for myself and every author and book vendor I know that is likely to attending this event.

With "Virtual Blue" Nikki Howard!
With “Virtual Blue” Nikki Howard!

Anyway, on to the cool stuff. The event has grown every year, and this year it is bursting at the seams, coming very close to 100 authors (if it hasn’t hit there by now) and will be off site from That Book Place for the first time ever. Also for the first time, food vending will be available onsite for authors and guests.

I am attending Saturday 10 am-6 pm only, but in the unlikely event you might want to see other authors as well (I suppose it’s possible) festivities begin Friday night with reader- and writer-related panels, and continue through Saturday. Author readings are also scheduled all day, with yours truly offering up a little something from Haunting Blue at 1:40 pm.

I’ll be at my table or mingling with the crowds all day while selling and signing copies of my paranormal trilogy: Haunting Blue, Haunting Obsession, and Virtual Blue.

So join us for the fun! Check out the full schedule of events and driving directions at the official website and Facebook Event Page, and you can see my photo albums from previous years by clicking here and here .

Photo afterglow from Saturday’s Author Fair

With "Virtual Blue" Nikki Howard!
With “Virtual Blue” Nikki Howard!

The drive was smooth and the weather perfect (though I’m glad I remembered my sunscreen) for the Fourth Annual Author’s Fair at That Book Place! But enough about me, if a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s a novella to check out!

Click here to access my Facebook photo album of the event.

Fourth Annual Author’s Fair at That Book Place

That Book Place 4th Annual Author’s Fair
Saturday, March 15, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
335 Clifty Drive; Madison, IN  47250
Click here for the website and
Click here to invite yourself to the Facebook Event (Best source of information)

Virtual Blue Final low rezThis weekend marks my third consecutive appearance at the annual Book Fair at That Book Place in Madison, Indiana. Pretty cool, given this is only the fourth annual event.

At the second annual event, I was honored to be one of perhaps 20 authors. This year, Frank Hall, the owner of That Book Place, is making room for more than 40 authors. Fortunately, he’s expanded his store to double its previous size, which means room for more books and more authors than ever!

Haunting Obsession Lo RezThe Annual Book Fair at That Book Place has turned into quite a mini-gathering of regional authors. This year, I know for sure, that Seventh Star Press will be well represented, with authorly buddies John F. Allen, Eric Garrison, and Michael West joining me, plus Selah Janel and the awesome Stephen Zimmer. I expect to see Ren Garcia, Matt Adams, Tony Acree, and….wow, I just looked at the guests list. Click here to check it out for  yourself.

It’s no exaggeration that That Book Place has thousands of new and used books in an astronomical variety of genres. And Frank makes sure that indy (and Indy) and small press authors are well represented at That Book Place. That’s why we love him, and that’s why we gather up in force at his little shop every year.  John Allen recently called it the “pre-season event” of the convention season, and I think that explains it well.

1379298_685408011469465_1960097454_nThis year I’ll be bringing the always popular Haunting Obsession, and new since last year , my latest novel, Virtual Blue. Although it is out of print, I will have very limited copies of the Haunting Blue paperback on hand. All paperbacks are sold through That Book Place, and as always, Frank is offering a discount on all Fair merchandise.

Autographs are free and worth every penny you pay.

If the weather is as warm as predicted, there’s a very good chance that Blue, the main character in my series, will make an appearance! She doesn’t like the cold, but it looks like the weather will hold out.

So come on out! I hope to see you there.

Interview: Eric Garrison Gives R.J. a Reality Check

ericgarrison-tbpCongratulations to my friend Eric Garrison on his two book publishing deals, one with Hydra Publications for his recently released science fiction dimension hopping thriller, Reality Check. The other for a multi-book deal with Seventh Star Press.

 

Shorty after Eric and I met, we discovered pretty fast that our writing shares much in common. We decided to embrace the similarities and write in a “shared world.”

 

So ignore all that, because Reality Check is something else entirely.

 

Reality Check is Eric’s genre-bending, dimension-hopping science fiction thriller, the first of a planned trilogy. You can meet Eric along with many other awesome authors *koff-koff me too koff-koff* at the That Book Place Book Fair, Saturday, March 16, the first place on the planet where Eric will appear, armed with the paperback of Reality Check.

 

Reality-Check-Cover-thumb“When a quantum supercomputer’s ‘reality simulator’ program causes temporary insanity in its beta-testers, Lee Green rolls up his sleeves and dives into a virtual world to debug the problem. Only he discovers that place is more real than anyone imagined.

He finds alternate versions of his friends in that mad science reality, their lives and relationships very different from those in the ‘real’ world. Quantum entanglements become romantic entanglements as he meets his love again in each new dimension.

Lee must save these other lives, decide which destiny is truly his, and what he’s willing to sacrifice to get there.”

 

For those that can’t make it, click here and here to see the book’s Amazon links.

 

 

There’s something both classical and yet new to this story. When it comes to science fiction, are you drawn more toward the classics or to the more modern stories? Which authors inspire you, particularly with this work?

 

I suppose if I had to pick just one of those, I guess I lean toward the classics. Even the modern authors I read, Stephen Baxter, John Varley, Dan Simmons… these guys write about spaceships and exploration and how humans change and still remain human.

 

Looking at my bookcases for science fiction authors, I see a lot of Asimov, Niven, Simmons, and Gibson. But if I think about the forces that formed Reality Check, I’d have to give credit to Robert Heinlein, Neal Stephenson, and John Varley. Whatever else you may say about Heinlein, he was the master of social science fiction… that “what if” being applied to how people adapt to technology and alien situations. Neal Stephenson, on the other hand, is the master of science fiction at breakneck, breathless pacing. I always strive to keep the momentum in my novels going.  John Varley follows in Heinlein’s footsteps in his treatment of individuals and relationships in science fiction, but he’s also amazing at cranking things “up to eleven” in intensity, taking the story through twists and turns that make you afraid to put his books down.

 

From the Reality Check book trailer. Art by Nell Williams.
From the Reality Check book trailer. Art by Nell Williams.

I’m going to give a nod toward Jack Chalker too, since absolutely no one writes body swapping stories like he does. There, I said it, I love Jack Chalker’s novels. We all have to have guilty pleasures, right?

 

 

What work would you most directly compare this story to?

 

That’s a tough one. It’s part Matrix, part Quantum Leap and part Star Trek TOS: Mirror, Mirror. I take a techie geek from our world and put him in alternate worlds, where he finds his own life still intertwined with his friends’ in different ways, despite the changing backdrop and genre.

 

 

When you first discussed the concept of this story, what struck me was how difficult, potentially, keeping track of your plot points might be. Yet everything falls into place quite nicely. Discuss the approach you took to keeping the plot from getting away from you.

 

Without giving too much away, I think the symmetry of the story was what held it together. Sure, three characters across three-and-a-half worlds did get confusing. Those three became nine individuals, but despite local differences, each triplet has great similarity to his or her alternate counterparts. It could have gotten all sorts of crazy, dealing with three main worlds, each with its local crisis, and all those characters’ motivations, but in the end, I told the story in first person for a reason: This is Lee’s story. Seeing it all through his eyes, we follow just his thread through the warp and weave of the novel. Writing it that way, I could concentrate on his wants and feelings and actions, even as everything changed around him, including his own body.

 

 

Let me throw a couple of thoughts at you that occurred to me as I read your book, and get your response. Reality Check follows a protagonist, unsure of himself, unhappy with his life, who finds within himself hidden potential as his exterior environment radically shifts. Reality Check may be seen as a study on how our environment directly affects us as a determining factor on how much of our potential we can find within ourselves.

 

From the Reality Check book trailer. Art by Nell Williams.
From the Reality Check book trailer. Art by Nell Williams.

I think this is a valid way to look at a theme in the story. Lee’s in the doldrums in his own life, but when he’s thrown into alternate versions of his life, he meets the challenges he finds there, doing more to fix those lives than than his own. Change is difficult, but it’s being put outside of our comfort zone that makes us grow and shine. Lee could have continued happily enough in his rut, but so could Bilbo have sat at home in his hole. And like Bilbo, Lee makes that first choice to step outside of himself to become so much more than he would have otherwise.

 

 

Try this one: A core theme in Reality Check seems to be that some people are destined to be together and will always find each other, no matter their life circumstance or position in life. With each reality shift, Lee continues to have a close relationship with his two best friends, even though the realities have little to nothing to do with each other geographically or, in many ways, the professions and organizations the three of them are associated with. (Dancing around spoilers). Do you embrace this destined viewpoint between individuals as a personal philosophy?

 

I think the idea of a soulmate is overused. I absolutely do not believe the “romantic” notion that there’s one true person for each of us in this world. I don’t see that concept as romantic, I see it as depressing. Only one person out of billions that really gets you? What if you pick wrong and meet your real soulmate later?

 

I prefer the idea of kindred spirits, in the sense that some people, you just know right off the bat, like you’ve met them before. Like we’re all just characters in some massively multiplayer online game, and we’ve played other games with the same folks another time. I do think we’re drawn to certain people, and I like to think that would be true no matter what universe.

 

Just to be contrary, I’ll relate that Reality Check doesn’t actually imply this. One of the Dionnes comes out and says that the only way the reality hopping works for Lee is because he’s swapping with people in other universes enough like him to be essentially who he is, despite all other factors. She goes on to say that the reason he’s surrounded by his closest friends, even in other universes, is because he can’t be who he is without those people as a part of his life.

 

But it’s really just a chicken-and-egg sort of thing.  Can they travel between dimensions only because they are together, or would they be together in any universe? They’re simply not the same people without each other, so it doesn’t matter which is the real reason. We are who we are, in part, by who we choose as friends.

 

 

This is your fifth completed novel and your first venture into science fiction. Discuss your journey as a writer. Is this a novel you could have written at any point in that journey or did you have to build up to it? Why did you feel that now was the right time?

 

I wrote Reality Check for two main reasons.  One, I had this idea, in some raw form, rattling around in my head for many years beforehand. It’s been sitting in my “Story Ideas” file in Google Docs all this time. It was going to be a short story, originally, but I couldn’t think of a plot to go with the concept that would fit that format. Two, I’d written four urban fantasy novels already, one trilogy and one spin-off, and I felt I wanted to stretch myself by writing all new characters and a different genre.

 

From the Reality Check book trailer. Art by Nell Williams.
From the Reality Check book trailer. Art by Nell Williams.

I really don’t think I could have written this as my first novel. It was a huge challenge. I quit writing it out of frustration halfway through the first draft. I did, I quit, I shouted I was done with it. I felt overwhelmed, and I wasn’t sure how I wanted to end it. But some good friends told me the idea was too compelling to abandon, that I had to finish it. With that external motivation, I sat my butt down and redid the outline, in greater detail, and finished a rough draft. Which I got feedback on; I was right, the ending wasn’t very satisfying. So I made it a sort of false ending and kicked the plot back into gear toward a new goal, which ended up rewriting and expanding it quite a bit. Even that ending wasn’t quite satisfying, so I tweaked it until I was satisfied and added an Epilogue so the ending didn’t come to such an abrupt halt.

 

There’s no way I would have had the discipline and drive to retool, rewrite and polish this book before the time I wrote it. It took having the other four books under my belt to have the confidence to finish what I started, with a little help from my friends, and the patience that came with the experience I gained over time.

 

 

Because “it’s complicated,” can you discuss what’s coming up from Eric Garrison?

 

It really is complicated! Toward the end of last year, I had a choice of working on a sequel to my urban fantasy spin-off, Blue Spirit (which I’ve already started), or following up on the adventures of Lee, Dionne and Cecil with a Reality Check sequel. Mean Spirit or Sanity Check. But a few things happened. First, Reality Check got picked up by Hydra Publications, which meant spending quality time with an editor (shout out to Martha Swanson!) to further refine that work. Then, I pitched my self-published Road Ghosts trilogy to Seventh Star Press, and they’ve decided to pick it up and publish it, along with Blue Spirit, as part of a six book deal.

 

So, my first novel, Four ’til Late, will be my next novel to come out in late spring or early summer of 2013. It will be followed by Sinking Down, the second book in the trilogy in mid to late summer. Blue Spirit will come out right on that book’s heels, for complicated reasons… mainly so that it doesn’t have to stay out of print as long, but partly because its protagonist, Skye, is introduced in Sinking Down and doesn’t have a role in the third book in the Road Ghosts trilogy.

 

So that means I will be working on a sequel to Blue Spirit in order to have it come out by the end of the year or early next year. But I think it won’t be Mean Spirit; I’ve decided more has to happen between those two books, so my working title for Skye’s next adventure is Restless Spirit.

Visit Eric Garrison’s website here.

Check out the Reality Check book trailer here.

Check out artist Nell Williams here.