Thursday, February 23, 2012

RJ Sullivan Signs to Seventh Star Press

Congratulations to one of our very own Sci-Fi Guys, RJ Sullivan, for his new four book deal with Seventh Star Press! Labeled as a writer of Paranormal Thrillers, here's the full press release as per Seventh Star's site:

Seventh Star Press proudly announces a four book deal with author R.J. Sullivan, making him the seventh author to come aboard the publisher's main roster.

The addition of R.J. Sullivan comes close after Seventh Star Press' strongest year yet, during which titles such as Jackie Gamber's Redheart and Michael West's Cinema of Shadows received excellent critical reception, and the artwork featured by the press also received increased recognition, as Matthew Perry recently won Top Cover Art in the 2011 Readers Choice Awards for his cover art on Stephen Zimmer's The Seventh Throne.

The first title to be released by Seventh Star Press, Haunting Obsession, tells the story of Daryl Beasley.  Daryl collects all things Maxine Marie, whose famous curves and fast lifestyle made her a Hollywood icon for decades after her tragic death. Daryl's girlfriend, Loretta Stevens, knew about his geeky lifestyle when they started dating, but she loves him, quirks and all.

Then one day Daryl chooses to buy a particularly tacky piece of memorabilia instead of Loretta's birthday present. Daryl ends up in the doghouse, not only with Loretta, but with Maxine Marie herself. The legendary blonde returns from the dead to give Daryl a piece of her mind—and a haunting obsession he'll never forget.

A member of the Indiana Horror Writers, R. J. Sullivan resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. His first novel, Haunting Blue, is an edgy paranormal thriller about punk girl loner Fiona "Blue" Shaefer and her boyfriend Chip Farren.

R.J. is hard at work on the next chapter in Fiona's story, Virtual Blue, which will be released in 2013, followed by two more novels over the course of 2013 and 2014.

"I was with Michael West at several events last year, and I couldn't help but notice the slick marketing materials he was handing out," R.J. Sullivan commented as to why he wanted to bring his work to Seventh Star Press.  "I saw how Seventh Star had a personal presence nearby to assist at the cons. I realized that having the publisher at those events changes the convention vibe, which can otherwise be an isolated experience. I love that they produce interior artwork as part of their product--it shows an understanding of the genre and its readers.  It's clear Seventh Star understand the modern publishing world, and does everything they can to open up opportunities for the author to succeed."

Bonnie Wasson, whose cover art and illustrations are featured in Seventh Star Press titles such as D.A. Adams' The Brotherhood of Dwarves series, will be creating the artwork for the R.J. Sullivan novels.

Haunting Obsession will be released in limited hardcover, softcover (trade paperback), and several eBook editions, including versions for Kindle, Nook, the iBookstore, and Sony-compatible devices.

For further information on R.J. Sullivan and the upcoming releases, please visit or the author's site at
Again, congratulations to Sci-Fi Guy RJ Sullivan!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Switchblade Goddess Book Review

Title: Switchblade Goddess
Author: Lucy A. Snyder
Publisher: Del Rey
Pages: 323
ISBN: 9780345512116

I have to be honest here: I've been waiting to read this book since the moment I shut the cover of Shotgun Sorceress. It didn't help that at Mo*Con last year, Lucy was awesome enough to read from Switchblade Goddess, so needless to say, it's been a painful year of waiting. But now, alas, the waiting is over.

I wasn't sure how to take the release of Switchblade Goddess. On one hand, I was excited to see what happened next, especially after the succulent morsel Mrs. Snyder read at Mo*Con, but on the other, I was reluctant to open to the first page. Because, no matter what, once I started reading there would be no turning back, and ultimately, when the book ended, so would the incredible story that Mrs. Snyder has managed to weave.

After much contemplating, I finally dug in. It was three hours before I finally decided to acknowledge the outside world, or for that matter, air to breath. The next night, I finished the book, much to my chagrin. It was everything I expected, and so much more. Let's just say there were a lot of tears and fist pumps along the way.

If Spellbent was dark, and Shotgun Sorceress was darker, then Switchblade Goddess is a nosedive straight into hell! Switchblade Goddess picks up right after Shotgun Sorceress, except now things have gone from worse to unfathomable. Jessie has to deal with Miko in her hellement, while the Warlock and Cooper (Jessie's lover) deal with one of Cooper's younger brothers. As the story dives closer and closer to hell, things begin to unravel and get worse for Jessie, including an exorcism-like ceremony, and the poisoning of one of the most enjoyable characters Snyder has created within Jessie's universe.

The main theme of Switchblade Goddess featured heavily on possession; fighting inhibitions and personal demons, and outside invaders to body and soul. Whether Snyder intentionally set out to do this or not, it worked remarkably well as a tool for tying up the majority of the loose ends that have popped up since Jessie's introduction in Spellbent. This has become a pet-peeve with me within recent years; not every author can manage to so elequantly tie up loose ends like Lucy can.

Snyder finds a way to successfully immerse the reader back into the world of Jesse Shimmer, picking up the trails and hell that she's gone through before, and the desperation of the situation that she finds herself in with Switchblade Goddess. With hardly any new major characters to introduce, Switchblade Goddess mainly sticks to resolving the older, and new stray storylines that pop up along the way to the series climactic ending.

As for the story as a whole, at times I cried, but for the most part I couldn't help but jump up and down in hysteria, waking everyone in the house with my squees of glee. If you've read this far in Jesse Shimmer's adventures, then you know what you're in for: a tight story, characters you love to hate, a special kind of magic that leaves you wanting more, and all the sexual tension you can handle without having to excuse yourself for some alone time. None of that lacks in Switchblade Goddess. In fact it's more prevalent than in any of the past tiltes. That's why I'm giving Switchblade Goddess 8.5 out of 10 TARDISes.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Guest Blog: Author Michael West: Bringing Poseidon's Children to Life

2012 is going to be a big year for Sci-Fi Guys Book Review. Each month will see several authors either make a guest blog appearance or an interview appearance, which will focus on their new or up and coming titles. This month, and the first guest blog of the year on Sci-Fi Guys, is from author Michael West.

By now readers of this site should be familiar with West's name. Last year he made the Best of 20111 list not once, but twice. He also made the Most Anticipated Releases of 2012 list with his new novel Poseidon's Children, which launches the first book in a four part Urban Fantasy series entitled Legacy of the Gods. With the release of Poseidon's Children just a little over a month away, I thought it only fitting to invite Michael to share a bit of the story behind Poseidon's Children.

So, without further ado, here's Michael West:

Bringing Poseidon’s Children to Life
Or: How the Star Wars of Horror became the Texas Chainsaw Massacre of Urban Fantasy
By Michael West

I had a very vivid, very strange dream. Some dreams fade as soon as you open your eyes. Others stick with you for days. This particular dream has been with me for over twenty years. It involved an ancient stone temple, with odd markings etched into its walls, and a very seductive sea-creature. Most people have fantasies about movie stars and musicians; mine get directed by H.P. Lovecraft.  

Go figure.

Inspired by the visuals of this dream, I set about writing a screenplay. I was still in college at the time, studying film and television, still holding onto my boyhood dream of being the next Steven Spielberg or James Cameron. This was back when computers used huge 5 ¼” floppy discs to store information. I had a case full of them, and in between classes, you could find me in one of the campus computer labs, working on my epic. It was dark, filled with horrible monsters and bloody mayhem, with a touch of Science-Fiction sprinkled throughout; a project that I lovingly described to friends as “the Star Wars of Horror.”

I never finished that script. The more I wrote, the more I realized that the story I wanted to tell was just too large in scope for my meager budget at the time. Instead, I took all the work I’d done and began the task of converting dialogue and stage direction into paragraphs and prose.  

 When I finished the first third of my manuscript, I printed it off in sections using the computer lab’s dot matrix printer (Oh man, I’m really dating myself here!), and like a proud papa, I handed it off to some friends, asking them to offer their critiques. I didn’t have the time or paper to print more than one copy, so this huge ream of paper--about two hundred pages worth--got passed along from one person to another, each one writing me notes along the way.

Then, tragedy struck. Remember those 5 ¼” discs I told you about? Well, I lost them. All of them.  Don’t ask me how. I left them in a classroom, dropped them in a parking this day, I still have no idea where they are. At the start of the day, I had them, and at the end of the day, they were gone, and with them went my novel-in-progress.  

But at least I still had that hard copy, right?  

Nope. I went back to all of my friends, trying to track it down, but I had no better luck with them than I’d had with those classrooms and parking lots. No one seemed to know where that stack of paper was, and even if they did, nobody wanted to admit that they were the one who lost it.

And so, for a time, I tried to forget about the story and move on.  I mean sure, I could’ve gone back and started the novel all over again from scratch. But let’s be honest, shall we: it’s one thing to have your friends and family give you some bad feedback on a project, but when fate steps in and takes away all known copies of your work, that’s the universe telling you that you just need to stop. At least, that’s what I thought at the time. 

That dream just wouldn’t die, however, and the more I thought about it, the more I talked about it with other people, the more I realized that it was something I would have to tackle again someday. 

In the meantime, I got married. Three years later, my oldest son was born. And three years after that, with another son on the way, a friend from Indiana University unpacked a box of stuff from his college dorm room and found a stack of paper with my name on it.

Poseidon’s Children.  

The prodigal offspring had returned.  

And so I sat down and read the manuscript for the first time in almost a decade. A lot had changed since I’d written it.  In addition to my new family, I now had a computer in my home, and I’d written some short stories, found my voice as an author, a voice that now screamed in agony at the clunky prose and horrible dialogue on display in the faded dot matrix ink on those two-hundred pages. And yet, all those ideas that I’d been toying with over the years were still there, begging me to pick them up and play with them again. 

Over the next year, I rewrote the existing portion of the manuscript and just kept going, finally finishing the story. I weaved in more mythology, loading up the novel with all of those cool ideas that had been crawling around inside my brain. And when I printed it out on my laser printer, the final product was nearly eight hundred pages long and weighed over ten pounds, dwarfing the latest edition of the Indianapolis white pages. 

Obviously, it was in need of some editing. So I did what any professional author would do: I went to said Indianapolis phonebook and looked up “Editor, Books.”  Believe it or not, I found one name. She used to read slush for a New York publisher, but now she edited text books and instructional manuals for corporations. As luck would have it, the idea of working with fiction again excited her, and she agreed to help me whip my manuscript into shape. For the next two years, that’s exactly what we did.  

When we felt we had it ready, I sent it to several publishers. As a writer, you get a story in your head that you’re passionate about, and you just want to tell it in the best way possible. You don’t stop and think about what genre you’re writing in. But, since I considered myself a Horror author, I approached the Horror market first.      

Over and over again, the same response: “We really enjoyed Poseidon’s Children, but we didn’t find it to be scary enough to be Horror.” Based on some of the story elements, they suggested that I try a Science-Fiction publisher instead. And so I took their advice, hoping to have better luck, but finding only further rejection. “We found this to be a fast-paced, enjoyable read,” they told me, “but it’s just too horrific to be part of our Sci-Fi line.” 

So there I was, stuck with a book that everyone liked, but nobody wanted. No one could even agree on what it was! It was dark, that much was certain, and bloody; it had elements of Action Adventure, Mystery, Thriller, Science Fiction, and, of course, Horror. So where should I turn?

Frustrated, I shelved the novel once again, focusing instead on other projects. I published enough short fiction to fill a collection, Skull Full of Kisses, which was published by Graveside Tales, and I wrote two more novels, The Wide Game, also for Graveside, and Cinema of Shadows, which I sold to Seventh Star Press as part of a multiple book deal.  All Horror. 

And still, that dream kept gnawing at me. I loved those characters, that mythology, and I wanted to get it out there.  

I decided to take another stab at Poseidon’s Children. This time, I turned to the other writers of my writing group, Indiana Horror Writers, for suggestions. It was Maurice Broaddus, who was writing his own series of novels at the time, who told me that what I had was clearly Urban Fantasy. I questioned this, thinking that all Fantasy, even Urban Fantasy, had to have wizards and dragons. The more I looked into it, however, the more diverse the genre became. Urban Fantasy could have vampires and werewolves, it could have demons and monsters, even aliens.And the more I read, the more I thought that my novel was a perfect fit.  

I decided to do one final polish. I played up some elements, jettisoned others, and expanded the whole mythology into a series I was now calling The Legacy of the Gods. But I still kept it dark, kept it bloody; in fact, I lovingly described it as “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre of Urban Fantasy.” Satisfied with the finished product, I approached my current publisher, Seventh Star Press, who had released a fair amount of Fantasy and Urban Fantasy before taking on my Indiana-based Horror Series, and I waited nervously for their response. 

When they told me they loved Poseidon’s Children, I was overjoyed, and yet I kept waiting to hear “but it’s not scary enough for this,” or “it’s too Sci-Fi for that.” This time, however, it was just right. They greenlit the entire series and set a release date for March of 2012; more than twenty years after that initial dream.

So we are, on the eve of the novel’s release. Soon my faithful readers will be able to dive into the world I’ve been swimming in alone for so long. In fact, some reviewers already have their copies. "A little more gruesome than most of the Urban Fantasy novels I've read," one of them has already commented.
Oh yes, my work here is done.