BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW – NISI SHAWL

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what does it mean to you to be a black writer in this society?
I first realized I *could* be a writer in the 1970s, after reading a bunch of feminist SF.  I realized if Suzy McKee Charnas got away with saying what she said, I had a chance to do something similar.  What it means to me to be a black writer in this society is to have built-in “cognitive estrangement,” the quality that critic Darko Suvin thinks is essential to the imaginative genres.
Do you write full time, or do you have another full-time job? What is your educational background?
I’m a college drop-out.  I write and teach writing full time.  I work in a bookstore one day a week.
How do you best meet the challenge of juggling your day job (if applicable) and/or your family, against your writing career?
I have no day job to speak of.  I’m divorced, no children.  My family know not to talk to me–or even talk around me–when I’m writing.
What genre(s) do you write in, is there a favorite and which do you feel have had the most important impact on the black community? Traditionally, in mainstream media, blacks have been vastly marginalized in Speculative Fiction and fiction in general, how do you see that changing and what impact will your work have on making those changes?
I write science fiction, fantasy, horror, and creative nonfiction.  Which is the most influential?  I have two words for you: Black Panther.  In speculative fiction there has been a growing acceptance of the presence of African-descended writers and African-derived content since the 2009 online controversy known as “Racefail.”   Con or Bust, the Carl Brandon Society, and many other factors have supporteded this growth.
Who are some of the major writing influences who most inspired you?
Samuel R. Delany, Gwyneth Jones, Colette, and Raymond Chandler.
Do you listen to music when you’re creating? If so, what type?
I listen to instrumental music for the most part, and the sort of instrumental music depends on the sort of story I’m writing: harp music, ragtime, hard bop, electronica, so on, so forth.
How long does it usually take you to complete work on a book?
Years.  Everfair took six.  I write at a fairly slow pace.
How many books have you written?
Eight.  Now ask me how many I’ve published (five).
As a black author, do you feel a personal responsibility to the black community to create content which not only entertains, but also uplifts and educates?
Nope.  I feel a personal responsibility to my ancestors to create beauty.
Is there any particular book that you’ve written that you’re most passionate about?
I’m most passionate about The Blazing World, which my agent described as “weird.”  It’s unpublished and unsold.  It’s the first novel I ever wrote.
What legacy do you want your work to represent and resonate in the black community and the world?
I want my work to challenge and satisfy readers, to have the undeniable emotional impact of a piece of music.  I want it to set a standard that others enjoy meeting in their own work.
What are some of the upcoming projects you’re working on?
I’m revising a Middle Grade historical fantasy about two young African American girls having adventures in 1962; it’s called Speculation, and it involves a pair of magic glasses.  I’m also drafting a sequel to Everfair, my Nebula-nominated alternate history of a socialist Utopia in the 19th century Congo.
How can the readers learn more about your work and follow your career?
Google me.

Nisi Shawl is an African American writer, editor, and journalist. They are best known for co-authoring Writing the Other: A Practical Approach, which is the go-to guide to representing difference in fiction.  Their debut novel, Everfair, ws a Nebula finalist; their debut story collection, Filter House, is co-winner of the 2009 James Tiptree, Jr. Award.  Most recently Shawl edited New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color.  Among other books, they co-edited Stories for Chip, a tribute to Samuel R. Delany; and Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler.  They edit reviews for literary quarterly The Cascadia Subduction Zone, and have contributed to Ms. Magazine, The Washington Post, Tor.com, and other venues.  Shawl has appeared as a guest lecturer at several educational institutions, including Duke University and Spelman College.  They live in Seattle, near a large lake full of enticingly dangerous currents. 

BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW – JD MASON

How do you best meet the challenge of juggling your day job (if applicable) and/or your family, against your writing career?
Commitment is everything. I don’t making writing an afterthought. It’s as important as showing up in any other aspect of my life and making the time to do it is probably a bit more important, because it’s easy to make excuses NOT to write. I set personal goals for myself. There are no magic formulas or answers. I make up my mind that I’m going to write a chapter a night, or five chapters a week, or 1,000 words a day or whatever, and I stick to that. If something gets in the way of me meeting that goal, well, that means I have to make it up and instead of writing 1,000 words that next day, I have to write 1,500 or 2,000. The excuse of not having time, really is just an excuse. We make time for what’s important to us.
What genre(s) do you write in, is there a favorite and which do you feel have had the most important impact on the black community? Traditionally, in mainstream media, blacks have been vastly marginalized in Speculative Fiction and fiction in general, how do you see that changing and what impact will your work have on making those changes?
I started out writing mainstream women’s fiction (relationship drama). Overtime, that changed and I started introducing more speculative aspects to my work. I don’t think my readers noticed, but if they did, they didn’t complain. I’m not writing in several genres; women’s fiction, mystery/suspense, romantic and dark fantasy. I do see a change in that more black writers are offering more stories in speculative fiction. And I think that one of the main reasons we’ve been marginalized in the industry is because the publishing industry has had no idea how to capitalize on it financially. They don’t believe that black folks read speculative fiction and consequently, have not spent a lot of time focusing on it. Not an excuse, but my opinion. The publishing industry isn’t big on taking risks. They tend to go with what they know works, and across the board, not just with speculative fiction, they’ve never really known how to market/publish black writers and/or relate to black readers. I like to think that, as a writer, I’m offering readers a chance to step outside of their comfort zones to try new things. Most of my audience does not read speculative fiction, but some have given my books a chance and the responses have been surprisingly nice.
Who are some of the major writing influences who most inspired you?
Walter Mosely is my literary hero because Walter rights what he wants to write. He’s never been one to stick with what works and dares to venture out into any all genres. I believe that’s the core of what a creative writer should be. Fearless, daring and willing to take risks.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
As with most writers, I think I’ve got to “feel” what I’m writing. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and so, I think I’ve developed a good instinct on what “feels” right. My stories have to inspire whatever mood I’m trying to create in me, and if they do, then I’m confident they’ll inspire that same feeling in others. If I don’t feel it, then I have to let it go and try something else.
How many books have you written?
Over 25. I started with McMillan/St. Martin’s back in 2002 and have been writing ever since.
As a black author, do you feel a personal responsibility to the black community to create content which not only entertains, but also uplifts and educates?
I’ve always considered myself an entertainer first. Mainly because I see value in it. People read fiction to escape their reality and I’ve always believed that it’s important to provide that to my readers. I’ve always seen my writing as a way to celebrate experiences from the black perspective; love, hate, joy, pain, magic—and if someone happens to learn something from what I’ve written, all the better.
Is there any particular book that you’ve written that you’re most passionate about?
I wrote a series of books some years back called my Inherit the Crown series. The series actually tanked, but that had more to do with me than the story. Poor execution on my part and the publisher took a chance on it and lost big time, so they lost interest. I recently received the rights back to the stories and am about to re-release the series again. This is a huge risk for me because it could very well tank again. It was a terrible blow to me as a writer to have to suffer through that failure before, and I feel kind of crazy for putting myself on the line again, but I truly believe that the story is good and that it deserves one last chance to show me that. I may not sell a lot of copies or win over huge audiences, and I may be the only person in the world who loves this series, but honestly, that’s all that matters. If readers truly think it sucks, then I’m about to find out.
What does literary success look like to you?
It used to look like making the New York Times/USA Today bestseller lists, selling 50K copies of a book and making crazy money. When it looked like that, though, I was miserable. I found myself comparing my success to others and I was never good enough. Now, it looks like loving what I do. Writing what I love. Having some stranger reach out to me and say, “Hey, I loved that book”. It looks like being unafraid to fail and to try new things.
What legacy do you want your work to represent and resonate in the black community and the world?
I want people to look back at my body of work and say, “Wow! How the hell did we miss that?”. I want them to see that I believed that black people could live every type of life imaginable from billionaires to dragons to saviors and do it better than anyone could imagine.
What are some of the upcoming projects you’re working on?
I’m re-releasing my first dark fantasy series that I mentioned earlier; Of Gods & Shadows, Of Dark Creatures, and Of Doom & Light. I’m finishing up the fourth of my novellas in my black dragon series; Talos: The Forged in Fire Series, Book 2 (Eshe: The Fire Breathing Series, Book 1, Demir: The Forged in Fire Series, Book 1, and Oriana, The Fire Breathing Series, Book 2 are all available now). I have a total of 9 books planned for this series and I’ve fallen behind schedule. I’m working on revisions for a new novel “The Pearl of Dumpling” that I’m super excited about and hope to release later this year.
How can the readers learn more about your work and follow your career?
Website: https://www.jdmasonauthor.com Website:https://www.sistersanddragons.com/

BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW: DERRICK FERGUSON

Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what does it mean to you to be a black writer in this society?

A: I honestly can’t remember when I didn’t want to be a writer. Way back in the 6th grade I wrote Edgar Rice Burroughs inspired stories using my classmates as the main characters. I wrote a “chapter” on both sides of a sheet of loose-leaf paper which then got passed around the classroom. Once it was done and I’d gotten feedback on it, I’d write up the next “chapter.” I’ve worked many jobs but I’ve always identified as a writer and I just knew in my spirit that’s what I put on this Earth to do.

What it means to me to me to be a black writer in this society? Mostly that I get to tell stories with black characters having experiences and adventures you don’t usually get to read about. My father was a big James Bond fan and I remember asked him why there wasn’t a black James Bond and he said; “I guess you’ll have to come up with one and write about him.” So that’s been my M.O. when it comes to writing. There are certain archetype characters that I always wondered why we didn’t have black characters representing those archetypes. Apparently, I’m not the only black writer who felt that way. This is an extraordinarily exciting time for Black Speculative Fiction, Sword & Soul and all the related fields as now we have a plethora of black heroes and heroines in all genres being written by remarkably talented black writers.

Q: Do you write full time, or do you have another full-time job? What is your educational background?

A: I retired some time ago. I’ve experienced two pulmonary embolisms. One in the 1980s, the other in the late 90s. After the second one my doctor recommended that I take it easy and Praise God I had not only the financial security to retire early but an understanding spouse who agreed with the doctor and said I should stay home and write my heart out if that’s what I wanted to do. When people ask me what’s the most important thing that a writer should have and I always say; “An understanding spouse.” My wife has a significant role in whatever success I have as it’s she who provides the environment I need to be creative.

My educational background is undistinguished. I graduated from what used to be known as The New York School of Printing but is now The School of Graphic Communications Arts. I went to that school for the journalism/writing classes but got some good training in learning how to run various printing presses which meant that right after I graduated, I stepped right into a job operating a Heidelberg press. I have taken some college courses but never regularly attended college. While I have a tremendous amount of respect for learning and for teachers, I don’t have pleasant memories of my time being a student in the NY Board of Education. The ironic thing is that I ended up working for them for eighteen years.

Q: How do you best meet the challenge of juggling your day job (if applicable) and/or your family, against your writing career?

A: Well, I don’t have a 9 to 5 so I don’t have to worry about that. As for family, it’s just my wife and me so I have extraordinarily huge chunks of time to myself in which to read, write and watch more movies than is probably good for me.

Q: What genre(s) do you write in, is there a favorite and which do you feel have had the most important impact on the black community? Traditionally, in mainstream media, blacks have been vastly marginalized in Speculative Fiction and fiction in general, how do you see that changing and what impact will your work have on making those changes?

A: So far, I’ve written in the Western, Horror, Weird Western, Classic Pulp and New Pulp genres. Strangely enough, given my lifelong love of Science Fiction I’ve yet to write a straight-up Science Fiction story or novel. Oh, I’ve had what might be charitably be called science fiction elements in some of my Dillon novels. But there’s also espionage, action/adventure, cliffhanger pulp adventure…it’s a whole hodgepodge of stuff thrown in there. 

I see a whole lot changing for People of Color in Speculative Fiction as far as TV and Mainstream Movies and Comic Books/Graphic Novels are concerned. But that’s because the technology is there so that creatives can bypass the gatekeepers who for decades have filtered their work, diluted it or just kept it out of view. Once upon a time you used to have to mortgage your house if you wanted to produce your own comic book or self-publish or make a movie.

Now? Filmmakers are shooting entire movies on their smart phone, editing on their laptops and uploading them to YouTube. You can write a book and publish it yourself thanks to Lulu or KDP. You no longer need an agent or a publishing house. The opportunity is out there. The realm of Speculative Fiction belongs to POC now and it’s wonderful because we’re now telling stories that affirm that we shall go forward to the future. That in itself is a powerful message.

What impact will my work have? I truly have no idea. That’s a question best answered by those who are still reading my stuff fifty years from now when I’ve taken my leave and either lying on a cloud playing a harp or shoveling coal in an infernal furnace.

Q: Who are some of the major writing influences who most inspired you?

A: There are a whole LOT of writers who have influenced me but I’ll give you the dirty dozen. These are the guys who I read and studied fanatically: Lester Dent. Edgar Rice Burroughs. Charles Saunders. Michael Moorcock. Ishmael Reed. George C. Chesbro. Robert R. McCammon. Stephen Barnes. Chester Himes. Stan Lee. Mike Resnick. Larry McMurtry.

Q: Do you listen to music when you’re creating? If so, what type?

A: That all depends on what kind of mood I’m in. Sometimes I don’t want to do anything but listen to the characters talking, the explosions going off and the screamed of the damned. My imagination has a pretty good sound system. But if I’m writing a Weird Western, I’ll usually have on Ennio Morricone and Gangstagrass. In fact, if I’m writing any Western, I’ll usually have Morricone playing. If I’m writing a Dillon adventure there’s Motown and 70’s/80’s music going on.

Q: How long does it usually take you to complete work on a book?

A: That depends on the book. I knocked out “Search For The Beast” in two months flat. First draft to final. “The Madness of Frankenstein” took me something like eight years. A typical Dillon adventure can take me anywhere from three to nine months to write.

I’m not one of those writers who has a set schedule to finish every book within a certain time period. Each book has its own life. Some take longer to write than others, that’s all. The only real rule I have is that I only do three drafts and no more. Unless I’m asked by an editor to do another draft. “The Thousand-Eyed Fear” was five drafts but that was because I was working with somebody’s else’s concepts and characters and I had to make the changes he asked for.

Q: What does your writing schedule look like and how many hours a day do you write?

A: I don’t have a firm hard schedule that I keep to. Which is probably why I haven’t written as many books as I should have. I do get some writing in during the day but that’s mostly rewriting and editing what I did the day before. I like writing at night the best. I’ve written as little as two hours in a day and as many as eight. If the story is flowing and the words are coming fast and furious, I don’t like to stop and luckily, I’m able to do that.

Q: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

A: I would seem to have gotten the reputation of writing action well. Readers have also said to me that they enjoy my writing so much because when they’re reading it, the prose plays out as a movie in their head. Which means I’ve done my job because that’s how my novels and stories play out in my own head. I just look and listen to what’s playing on my Mental Movie Screen and put that down on paper.

Q: How many books have you written?

A: I’ve written 8 novels, 4 collections and have stories in 19 anthologies.

Q: As a black author, do you feel a personal responsibility to the black community to create content which not only entertains, but also uplifts and educates?

A: If I had a dollar for every time somebody said to me; “You should be writing something educational for our youth” I’d never have to write another word as long as I live.

I’m a big believer in that you have to write or sing or draw or act or whatever what you are hardwired to do. I am not hardwired to uplift or educate and there are tons of black writers out there who are qualified to do that much better than I could ever aspire to do. What I am hardwired to do and what I can do extremely well is tell entertaining stories that hopeful make you forget the burdens of your day for a few hours and I’m more than happy to be able to do that. I take pride in my ability to entertain and entertain well.

Q: Is there any particular book that you’ve written that you’re most passionate about?

A: Probably “Brooklyn Beatdown” because if you had told me prior to writing that book that I would write a hardboiled pulp boxing story set in 1950s Brooklyn I’d have laughed myself into a hernia. But I surprised myself by doing so. Mainly because I drew upon much of my memories of growing up in Brooklyn during the 1970s. Believe it or not, there was still a lot of the 1950s in the way black people talked, acted and thought during the 1970s and I tapped into that. It’s not one of my best-known books but I am proud of the fact that everybody who has read it loves it and there are several professional writers (including Mike Baron who co-created and wrote the comic book “Nexus” and created/wrote “The Badger”) who are big fans of the book.

I’m also quite passionate about “Dillon and The Legend of The Golden Bell.” Even though “Dillon and The Voice of Odin” is the first book in the series, I almost rather that people read “Legend of The Golden Bell” first.

Q: What type of research do you conduct and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

A: Again, it all depends on what type of book I’m doing. I’m hideously bad at doing research and I’ll make up a fact before looking one up. But when it comes to stuff like weapons and military tactics I have to buckle down and do my proper research because I’ll get a ton of email on that. Readers who are into guns and automatic weapons apparently read action adventure novels just to see if you get the specifications correct and nothing else. And Western fans are like that as well. When I write stories about Bass Reeves that are set in an actual historical period, I do have to stop being lazy and get it right because Western fans will be sure and let you know when you’ve got something wrong, be it a date or the wrong type of saddle or spurs. They know their stuff.

When I’m in the middle of writing the first draft of a novel or story if I hit a point where I need to do research I’ll just make a note of what I have to look up in [     ] and do it later in second draft. But I allow nothing to stop the momentum of that first draft as there’s nothing more important than getting the story down. I can fix everything else later.

Q: What are some of the best resources you’ve found for research?

A: My friends on The Internet, believe it or not. There’s a valuable resource of experts in Facebook Groups that I take advantage of. If I need an answer to a question, I throw it out in one of my Facebook Groups and get back more answers than I know what to do with. And if they can’t help me then usually a half hour on Google will provide me with whatever I need.

Q: What have you found to be the best marketing practices for your books to the black community?

A: As soon as I find out, I’ll let you know.

Q: What does literary success look like to you?

A: Pretty much what I’m doing now. I write whatever I want when I want with no pressure at all. If I had to rely on my writing for my livelihood, I seriously doubt I’d be as laid back about my career as I am now. But thankfully since I don’t have to worry about that I can write the books and stories that I want to write and have fun doing so. I spent many years busting my ass at jobs I didn’t particularly like or enjoy and I’ll be damned if I’ll waste my time writing about characters and subjects that don’t interest me or don’t engage me intellectually and emotionally.

Q: What legacy do you want your work to represent and resonate in the black community and the world?

A: Again, that’s something that’s best left up to the future. if my books are still being read fifty years from now, ask those reading them what my legacy will me. I like to joke with Patricia that twenty years after I’m dead I’ll be “discovered” which is what seems to happen to a depressingly large number of black writers. I’m okay with providing entertainment now and not worried about “legacy” and all that goes with it. It’s not that I don’t care about a legacy but I’m very much a Here & Now kind of person and would rather concern myself with the impact my work is making on people today.

Q: What are some of the upcoming projects you’re working on?

A: I just finished another Bass Reeves story for the 4th Volume of Airship 27’s Bass Reeves-Frontier Marshal anthology series. So far I’ve had stories in three of the four volumes which I’m extremely proud of. I’m currently working on a collection of my Sebastian Red stories. They’re Weird Westerns featuring a supernatural gunslinger roaming an alternate Wild West I like to describe as a mash-up of Sergio Leone and Michael Moorcock.

Q: How can the readers learn more about your work and follow your career?

A: Ferguson Ink: https://fergusonink.com/ is more or less the hub of my online activities so I would advise anybody interested in me and my work to start there.

The Ferguson Theater: https://derricklferguson.com/ is where I indulge my love of movies. At last count I’ve got something like 400 movie reviews there. If you’re a movie fan then I strongly advise you to check it out.

Dillon: https://my-dillon.com/ is devoted to my best known and most successful character. Before you dive into reading any of the Dillon novels you might want to poke around here first.

Usimi Dero: https://www.facebook.com/groups/usimidero/ is my Facebook hangout group I administrate. It’s just a spot where I hang out with a bunch of wildly talented and creative people where we talk about movies, pop culture, writing, comic books, television, New Pulp, Classic Pulp, Science Fiction, mass entertainment, things of that nature.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT: JOYCE LICORISH

Joyce Licorish is a singer, actress, best-selling author and filmmaker is born and raised in Indianapolis. She is the CEO of DreamEmpire Productions, LLC-S and the President and founder of the One Race Human Race Foundation 501(c)3 whose focus is on cultural diversity and inclusion in the arts.

DreamEmpire Films, LLC-S
www.DreamEmpireFilms.com
IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt8157618/?ref_=nv_sr_1
Film Pitch, The Forgotten Timepiece: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/randgeslnpjhrel/AAA8_z-TA-Z0NNgMxq4powNba/Video/the%20forrgotten%20.mov?dl=0

DAY THREE: The Best is Yet to Come Blog Tour!

The Best is Yet to Come Blog Tour Train is moving FULL STEAM AHEAD! Check out today’s stop, guest blog post Sheila’s Guests & Reviews!

Click the book cover above for purchase details!

The Best is Yet to Come Blog Tour Train is moving FULL STEAM AHEAD! Check out today’s stop, blog post at Sheila’s Guests & Reviews!

DAY TWO: The Best is Yet to Come Blog Tour!

Click the book cover above for purchase details!

The Best is Yet to Come Blog Tour Train is moving FULL STEAM AHEAD! Check out today’s stop, author interview at Book Reviews by Jasmine!

Click here to read the blog post!

Codename: Knight Ranger Official Blog Tour Master Link List

Codename Knight Ranger Official Blog Tour Banner

KNIGHT RANGER POSTER ART 2My blog tour in support of Codename: Knight Ranger launches Monday, 2 November 2015! Check out Seventh Star’s announcement here. This blog post will serve as the master list, and I’ll add live links to the each post as soon as I know they’ve gone up.

It’s going to be an exciting week and I hope you come back frequently to check it out.  I want to thank all of the book bloggers who volunteered to be a part of the fun.

The complete blog tour is as listed:

Monday, 2 November 2015
On Cloud Eight and a Half (Guest Post)

Tuesday, 3 November 2015
Author Interview with Pete Welmerink

Wednesday, 4 November 2015
Armand Rosamilia Guest Post
RJ Sullivan Top 5 Post
Book In The Bag Author Interview/Guest Post

Thursday, 5 November 2015
Darkling Delights Author Interview

Friday, 6 November 2015
Beauty in Ruins: Science vs Superstition, Military vs Monsters? (Guest Blog)
Sheila’s Blog (Guest Blog)
Bee’s Knees Reviews

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Please check in regularly to see the list fill in, and leave a comment below as the tour progresses and to let me know what you think.

Thanks & remember TBIYTC!!!

Sign Up For The Codename: Knight Ranger Blog Tour (Urban Fantasy/Spy-Fi)

Tomorrow Comes Media invites you to return to the world John F. Allen introduced in The God Killers, in a week-long celebration of his latest urban fantasy release, the Urban Fantasy/Spy-Fi novella Codename: Knight Ranger! The tour runs from November 2, 2015 through November 8, 2015, and you can sign up by clicking HERE!

KNIGHT RANGER POSTER ART 2Synopsis: 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.

JohnAllenAuthorPhoto_NewAbout 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 and son.

AUTHOR RJ SULLIVAN GUEST BLOG POST

In my writer’s journey I was blessed to have met a very talented author, who also became a good friend. I am honored to present to you here in this guest blog, without further ado…RJ Sullivan!

 

Haunting Blue CoverHello, and thanks very much to my good friend the incredibly talented, John F. Allen, for having me on today as part of my guest blog in support of Haunting Blue, my latest release from Seventh Star Press.

The following “bonus scenes” were composed specially for this blog, but can be read as occurring before and after the school scenes in Chapter 2 of Haunting Blue. The scenes are self-contained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

Janice Copley, Dean of Girls, stared at the paperwork on her desk, the official record of the new student seated across s from her, a Ms. Fiona Shaefer. She kept her eyes on the paperwork so she wouldn’t gape at the student herself.

When the girl had entered her office, Copley bit her lip to hold back a shocked noise. The new student looked like an extra in a Clash video.  Bright blue hair, spiked and unkempt, a jeans jacket and half-T. The head and shoulders of some pop singer glared back from the shirt. Did that style come back when I wasn’t looking? Every day, Copley saw something new in these halls that made her feel older and more out of touch.

Copley reviewed the record. Fiona, a senior, had transferred from Broad Ripple High School, a college town near Indianapolis. Well, that explains that. Fiona’s grades, for the most part, were pretty solid, with remarkable marks in English. She planned to major in poetry. No discipline problems. Well, that’s a pleasant surprise.

Having swallowed back the chuckle, she scanned the tentative schedule and scribbled her initials. She tore off the student copy and handed it to the stone-faced student. “Hello, Fiona. I’m always excited to see new faces here in Perrione. I’m a transplant myself. I grew up in Noblesville and took this job five years ago.”

The girl took the page. Copley waited while Fiona’s eyes scanned the paper. After a moment, her face broke into a grin. If not for the wild hair, Copley might have considered her attractive.

“So there’s no getting around it. You’re going to stand out a bit with your…city look, but—”

“Are there any rules against what I’m wearing?”

Not yet, but only because we never needed them before now, Copley thought. Out loud, she said, “Strictly speaking, no. But if anyone—”

“Listen,” said Fiona. “It’s not my choice to be here. My Mom moved us. I’m not in love with the idea, but I’m not going to start trouble. I just want to get through school and get on with the rest of my life.”

Well…that was something. Copley didn’t know what, but it was something. “I simply meant, if anyone causes you any trouble, you’re free to come to me. I mean that, Fiona.”

Copley waited. Fiona flashed another smile that, she had to admit, Copley found charming. “I won’t snitch—”

“Of course not.”

“— but if I have any problems, I’ll come to you.”

“Deal.” Copley reached out, and Fiona returned her handshake warmly. Maybe she’d been concerned over nothing. It seemed to her that the punk façade hid a gentle soul underneath. “Good luck, and welcome to Perionne High.”

****

An hour later:

Copley had just settled behind her desk with a fresh steaming mug of coffee. Movement drew her attention to the window. Oh, no, what? She recognized the gym teacher and two math teachers escorting a student in the direction of her office. Even through the slits of blinds, she could see the distinct blue-haired head of the new student.

She also knew the aftermath of a fight when she saw one. Figures.

She threw open the door and met the group halfway. Specks of blood marred the denim jacket. Dots of red also spotted the pop singer’s face on the half-t. A second look confirmed that the blood wasn’t the punk girl’s.

Copley struggled to keep her voice even, “Just an hour ago you told me I wouldn’t have to worry about you, Ms. Shaefer.”

Jeff–Mr. Fenley, she mentally corrected herself–spoke. “It was Clinty.” With his back to the punk girl, his look if sympathy communicated the rest. Go easy on her.

Clinty was a bully a frequent troublemaker. No two ways about it. She didn’t envy the Dean of Boys right now. The fact that this girl had tangled with Clinty and could walk to the office said something about her toughness as well.

But Clinty wasn’t her problem.

Conley pointed. “My office. Now.”

Head bowed, the punk girl walked, her feet dragging.

“You’ll need this,” said Jeff. He held out a leather strap with metal studs, perfect for fitting over knuckles. This, too, was stained with blood.

Conley took they weapon and followed the student. As soon as she shut the door, she let the strap drop between them on the desk.”What’s this for?”

“It’s an air freshener.”

“Funny. You asked me if your clothes were against the rules. This is.”

“I defended myself.”

I motioned to the stains on her clothes. “You look like you did pretty good.”

“He attacked me. I didn’t provoke him. I have witnesses. Those teachers saw it.”

Fiona folded her arms, focusing on a spot like every student Conley had ever seen who tried really hard to look toug while also trying really hard not to cry.

“I don’t doubt your word, Fiona.” She wrapped her fingers around the phone receiver. “I have to call your mother.”

“No!” Fiona sat up straight, and a tear escaped to fall over her cheek. “Please don’t call her.” Her eyes pleaded their case. “Look, can’t I just….do in class suspension?”

“The weapon ties my hands, Fiona. I have to suspend you from school three days.”

“From school?”

“I’m sorry. Your mother will have to come pick you up.”

“But I didn’t start it. I was defending myself. Please, Ms. Conley.”

Conley paused on the verge of dialing. She had no doubt that Clinty had jumped this girl. Maybe this time, the cowardly principal would expel that bully once and for all. Except Clinty’s father is the school security cop, so not likely.

“Listen, I’ll explain to your mother. I’ll tell her what happened. I’ll do whatever I can to make this easy on you.” She wasn’t sure why she said all this. Why did she feel moved to defend a girl she hardly knew? Because I know Clinty. That’s why.

 “It won’t matter,” Fiona said, wiping her cheeks. “Why do you think /’m here in the first place? My mom hates me. She brought me here to torture me, and no matter what you say, she’ll assume it’s my fault.”

Conley reached out and patter her hand. “I’m sorry, Fiona. I’ll do all I can. But I’m sure it won’t be as bad as you think.”

 

Haunting Blue Tour Badge

RECLAMATION BLOG TOUR WITH JACKIE GAMBER!

JackieGamberTourBadge_450X300Today I have the pleasure of Spotlighting in my blog, “Reclamation” the latest novel from my friend, the wonderful and extremely talented Jackie Gamber!
Jackie is also an author at Seventh Star Press, publisher of my debut novel last summer and various short stories, so if you are a fan of speculative fiction within the fantasy realm, then this novel is bound to be a real treat! Not only am I a friend of the author, but I’m a fan of the series. Jackie Gamber is a proven bestselling author with popular titles such as: Redheart and Sela. Her voice is powerful one, that is sure to entertain and enlighten.
I’m proud to know her and call her my friend, but even more than that, I’m inspired by her creativity and skill as a writer. As a relatively new writer for Seventh Star Press, I’m honored to be in the company of such a fine writer and person.
Don’t wait, go out and pick up a copy of Reclamation by Jackie Gamber, and while you’re at it, pick up Redheart and Sela too,  you’ll be glad that you did!

 
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Jackie_authorAbout the Author: As an award winning author, Jackie writes stories ranging from ultra-short to novel-length, varieties of which have appeared in anthologies such as Tales of Fantasy and Dragons Composed, as well as numerous periodical publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, The Binnacle, Mindflights Magazine, Necrotic Tissue, and Shroud. She is the author of the fantasy novel Redheart and Sela, and writing an alternate history time travel novel. She blogs professionally for English Tea Store.com, where she reviews classic science fiction and fantasy novels and pairs them with the ideal tea-sipping companion. 

Jackie is a member of the professional organizations Science Fiction Writers of America and Horror Writers Association. She was named honorable mention in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Award, and received a 2008 Darrell Award for best short story by a Mid-South author. She is the winner of the 2009 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award for Imaginative Fiction for her story The Freak Museum, a post-apocalyptic tale that looks closely at perceptions and outward appearances and how they affect the way we see ourselves. Jackie Gamber was co-founder and Executive Editor of Meadowhawk Press, a speculative fiction publisher based in Memphis. One of their novels, Terminal Mind by David Walton, won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award in 2009. Jackie also edited the award winning benefit anthology, Touched By Wonder. She has been a guest lecturer at Memphis Options High Schools, and is a speaker at writers’ conferences from Michigan to Florida. Jackie is also the visionary behind the MidSouthCon Writers’ Conference, helping writers connect since 2008.

 

9781937929404_Perfect_Cover.inddBook Synopsis Reclamation: The exciting conclusion of the Leland Dragon Series!
Leland Province remains in danger. The sinister Fordon Blackclaw has returned from the shadows to strike at the heart of neighboring Esra, killing its Venur and making clear his intentions to retake what was once his: Mount Gore, seat of the Leland Dragon Council.
All around, the land grows weaker and weaker. Leland, once thought saved by Kallon Redheart, is without purpose, and within its borders, Murk Forest, a place of mystery and danger, has driven its inhabitants to seek aid. Esra is in flames, and the Rage Desert grows. Dragon and human alike struggle to find their way, and the wizard Orman can sense that there may be more at stake than the affairs of dragons.
Hope remains, yet it is not without obstacles. In Esra, Sela, the daughter of Kallon and Riza, found the well, a source of life, and made herself whole again. But her homecoming is not what she had imagined.
O
ld wounds buried deep must reopen if life is to continue. Dragons, humans, wizards, and shape shifters are all at risk as the peace between dragon and human has finally been broken.

War is here.
The stakes?
Perhaps the whole world.

Reclamation_Illustration1PursuitReclamation_Illustration2Jastin
Author Links:
Website: http://www.jackiegamber.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mosaic-Mind-of-Jackie-Gamber/334783969938507
Twitter: @jackiegamber

 

 

 

 

 


Tour Schedule and Activities

2/24                A Book Vacation                                            Tour Wide Contest

2/24                Azure Dwarf                                                   Promo/Spotlight

2/24                Come Selahway With Me                             Guest Post

2/24                Jellowquake Productions                             Review

2/25                Creating Estelan                                            Promo/Spotlight

2/25                Workaday Reads                                           Review

2/25                Alexx Momcat’s Gateway Book Blog                       Promo Spotlight

2/25                Jorie Loves a Story                                        Character Post

2/25                I Smell Sheep                                                 Character Post

2/26                Kentucky Geek Girl                                        Guest Post

2/26                Deal Sharing Aunt                                         Review

2/26                Book in the Bag                                             Interview

2/27                Sheila Deeth                                                   Character Interview

2/27                John F. Allen Writer                                      Promo/Spotlight

2/28                Jorie Love a Story                                          Review

2/28                Azure Dwarf                                                   Review

2/28                Vampires, Witches, and Me, Oh My                        Guest Post

2/28                MichaelSciFan                                                            Interview

3/1      Elizabeth Delana Rosa ~Book Lover & Creator of Worlds~   Post on Art of Reclamation

3/1                  Coffintree Hill                                                 Guest Post

3/2                  Jorie Loves a Story                                        Author Interview/Reader Questions

3/2                  Bee’s Knees Reviews                                      Review

3/2                  Jess Resides Here                                           Guest Post

3/2                  Book and Movie Dimension Blog                 Review

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Amazon Links for Reclamation

Print Version

http://www.amazon.com/Reclamation-Jackie-Gamber/dp/193792940X

Kindle Version

http://www.amazon.com/Reclamation-Leland-Dragon-Series-Jackie-ebook/dp/B00HFPOU36

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3Covers_LelandDragons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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