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Interview with a magician: R.J. Lewis

With no further ado, then, please help me welcome R.J. Lewis (Arjay) to my blog.

Arjay interviewMGF: You started out as a puppeteer, went from there to performing magic and Broadway. You’ve written screenplays and been in movies and on television, and you’re now a resident magician for Princess Cruise Lines. I hesitate to ask, but how does all that lead you to write dark fantasy and horror?

Arjay: Actually I write in several genres, wherever the story takes me. My main series is a collection of murder mysteries that feature a psychic detective who is a professor of parapsychology. I have two books released in that series, Fire In The Mind and Seduction In The Mind. The Muse is a stand-alone, inspired by my writing of a short story The Dark, which appeared in H.P. Lovecraft Magazine of Horror. I used to avoid scary books, as I was a bit of a sensitive child. However, I have been won over by the writing of Dean Koontz and Stephen King. As a reader I just get pulled in so strongly by the writing and the excitement of the situations, despite the dark overtones.

MGF: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Arjay: My entire life I have been surrounded by writers. My father wrote a novel, which I never saw, and the manuscript is long gone. I have written plays and live shows since I was fifteen or sixteen. Finally two of my mentors and friends were writers, Parke Godwin and Marvin Kaye. I learned early on the discipline of the work and the joy of when you have a good writing day.

MGF: You’ve mentioned the “call of the odd” to me. I used to write a little horror myself (not very successfully), and I’m still a consumer of horror, so I have an idea what this phrase means to me. What does it mean to you as a writer?

Arjay: I am attracted to the paranormal. Which is interesting, as I am a major skeptic. Since ancient times we have been handed down stories of unusual creatures and concepts that defy explanation, as well as tales of those with extraordinary gifts. I think there is a desire within us as a species to explore those concepts, and fiction is the perfect outlet. We can create entire worlds, but as writers we must people them with characters that will appeal and pull the reader into the story. If so, the reader will go anywhere you want to take them and they will enjoy the ride.

MGF: I have to ask, since it’s the anniversary of Harry Houdini’s death. Some people think performing magic led him to a belief in the occult and then to a desire to debunk fake psychics in his quest to find the real thing. Do you think your career in magic affected your decision to write about odd things like psychic detectives and parasitic creatures?

Arjay: Absolutely. On one hand I am a complete skeptic, and can debunk people who bend spoons and “read minds” with ease. But underneath, a part of me wishes to believe in the impossible. And that part is what makes me strive in my act to create effects that will leave the audience wondering. My act is the perfect counterpoint. On one hand, I tell the audience it is all a trick, but then I do things that leave them unsure.

MGF: The Muse was definitely part of that “call of the odd”. I know there’s a little story about how it came to be written. Can you tell us?

Arjay: In June of 1999, I had the desire to write a horror tale about a night guard who saw things in the dark—that were actually there. I had been a guard in my youth and always found the dark places in the warehouse I worked creepy and for some reason those feelings came to the forefront with that story. It wasn’t until the next day, when I read the news that Stephen King had been hit by a truck in Maine. I was overcome with an odd sense that something needed that story to be written and since he couldn’t, it moved to me. The thought stuck with me and I wondered what it would be like if there was something—an actual physical entity that could make people write—and not just write, but write best sellers. That concept became The Muse.

MGF: Okay, so your characters in The Muse go through some pretty dark stuff. Do you ever write something and wonder, Where did that come from?

Arjay: For me that sort of sums up that entire book. My villain in The Muse is a famous writer who is secretly a serial killer, and who has a symbiont living within him that influences him. I knew that the creature had to leave him, but I didn’t expect him to devolve into a monstrous killing machine. A lot of the book revealed itself to me as I went, and I kept saying “I didn’t see that coming” which was great fun.

MGF: I have to admit I haven’t started your series about the psychic detective (Fire in the Mind, Seduction in the Mind, Reunion in the Mind)—yet. They are definitely on my list. These books are coming out pretty rapidly. June, September and November of this year respectively. Any chance you’re going to take a break and let us readers catch up?

Arjay: I have six books in that series already written, so I intend to release the next three next year, fairly quickly as well. I have over a dozen finished manuscripts and I want to start to release them to build momentum and establish myself as a writer. After that I will have to write the new ones, so that will slow down the release a lot. However, I have rough outlines for eighteen In The Mind books, which will not only cover the lead character’s growth but the ups and downs of his relationship with the female lead.

MGF: So your first book was published in June of this year and you already have a backlist. You obviously write a lot. What is your writing routine like?

Arjay: I write every day and usually block out nine to noon for writing new material. I live on the cruise ship, The Ruby Princess , which allows me to wander to various place I have to write, even outside in a deck chair. In the late afternoon, I will do rewrites on books that are getting cleaned up for the copy editor. If I have a release date looming, I put in evening hours as well.

MGF: Not that you need to, but because it starts tomorrow—any chance you’ll be joining National Novel Writing Month?

Arjay: My daughter, also a writer, is rising to that challenge. My rule is that I do not start a new book while one is sitting half done. This is why I have over a dozen finished novels. I have a book that I must turn my attention to in the In The Mind series, and I have a release on November 20 of Reunion In The Mind, so I must focus on getting that work finalized. However I will attempt to raise my word count for the month.

MGF: Finally, thank you very much for being my special guest today. It means a lot to have you here. I know my readers can go to your website (http://arjaylewis.com) to find out more about you and your novels. Anything else you’d like to include?

Arjay: Yes, I want to take a moment to praise YOUR writing. I went through your novel, Movie Magic all in one day and it is a great read. My complaint with many romance novels is that they sometime can be slow—often as a device to build the amorous tension. However, your book takes off like a rocket and keeps going, with vivid descriptions and fully developed characters, plus a four act structure that kept me turning pages. Since I have a background in magic and filmmaking, you really got the “feel” of what it is like to work in those industries. Plus the male lead is a magician! What more could I want?

What more indeed? Again, many thanks to Arjay for taking the time to answer my questions (and read Movie Magic). I’m looking forward to reading the In the Mind series and I highly recommend The Muse to anyone who enjoys horror. It’s fast-paced, horrifying and fun. And the twist ending caught even me off guard. Check out Arjay’s author page here: https://www.amazon.com/Arjay-Lewis/e/B071P9NND3/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

 

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Happy Launch Day, Movie Magic! (Check out the reading at the end…)

It’s October 31, and that means the launch of my new book, Movie Magic. I so enjoyed writing this one, and I’m so hoping you will enjoy reading it.

Today, we celebrate. At the end of the day (about 5 p.m.), I’ll draw names from all my commenters for prizes. Everything from signed copies of Movie Magic to Amazon gift cards. Every comment is eligible, and multiple entries are encouraged.

By the way, Ann Marie was the winner of the special edition Sleight of Hand perfume from Waft.com. I’ll be in touch with her to arrange delivery!

I leave you with this. It’s me, reading from chapter one of Movie Magic. I’m not big on public performances, but I really believe in this book.

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And here we…go!

Oh, Good Morning! Yes, this is the place. I’m the one launching Out of Time…It’s a bit early, though. I’m eating my cereal…oh, never mind. Come on in! Let’s get the party started, huh?

Launch day! Sounds exciting, right? It is. It’s so much fun knowing the work I’ve put in is finally out there. There being the wide world of readers. But I can’t help worrying, just as everyone worries when they send something they’ve put a lot of work into out into the world. Will the world be kind?

Time will tell.

release blitzMeanwhile, I’m all over the Internet today. Literally. You can find a list of my tour stops at this page: Enchanted Book Promotions Release Blitz. However, I’ll also be posting links as I get to each one today. So stay tuned here and I’ll post a link and you can meet me over there. There being the blog hosting the tour stop. It’ll be like space travel…only on the Internet! Virtual space travel, and you can say something nice about my book, and I’ll say something nice back. It’ll be cool.

Don’t forget that any time you comment here on this blog, I’ll enter you into a random drawing for a Kindle Fire, to be awarded here on my blog at 7 p.m. tonight. You’ll either need to leave me a way to get in touch with you on the comment or check back at 7 p.m. (Eastern cause that’s the time zone I live in.) Only commenters here on my blog will be entered into the giveaway, but I hope you’ll say hello no matter where you see me today! I’ll also be giving out $5 Amazon e-gift cards throughout the day, so make sure you check for those too!

In the meantime, if you haven’t bought your copy of Out of Time, it’s available in all major ebook formats on Smashwords, kindle format on Amazon and for your Nook on Barnes & Noble. And if you prefer hard copy, paperback versions are also available on CreateSpace, soon to be on Amazon and other major online book stores. So go get your copy! What are you waiting for?

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Less than a month to Launch…and another excerpt!

It’s less than one month to the Out of Time Launch Party (June 15). Remember, we’ll be celebrating right here all day long with a special guest, door prizes and a grand prize Kindle Fire giveaway. I hope you’ll all join me. In the meantime, here’s another short excerpt from Out of Time to pique your interest…Out of Time Excerpt3-page0001

There was nothing remarkable about this space more than any other. A small clearing in the woods, tall grass brushing Aylin’s withers, starred with little blue flowers. Kaelyn turned her horse in a circle, looking around, her scalp prickling. “There’s something here.”

“What do you feel?”

“It feels like—not danger, exactly. More like…possibility. Though I can’t say of what. But it’s there.”

“Where?” Cerys hadn’t drawn her sword. Whatever it was Kaelyn sensed, it wasn’t imminent danger, anyway, or her friend would certainly have been ready to do battle.

Kaelyn closed her eyes, feeling the wind brushing the hair from her temples. Her horse whinnied in protest of some unseen hazard. Behind her eyelids, she could see it sparkling, wavering in the air before her. She opened her eyes and pointed. “There.”

“Can you see it?” Tamsin peered at the empty air where Kaelyn pointed.

She couldn’t before, but now realized she could. As if on the edge of her vision, the air was a slightly different color—or, just as likely, a slightly different scent—than the air around it. Rose-colored. Rose-scented. The smell of a promise, the color of a dream. “Yes.” She shifted her gaze to Jack, who sat quietly on his horse. “It’s the portal.” She felt certain he’d brought her this way on purpose. He wanted to find out if she could see it.

He inclined his head. Something about his look troubled her. Had he hoped she wouldn’t know? This was the thing he guarded. Did Jack worry that she would want to go through it?

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Promotion: The dirty word of writing.

With the launch of Out of Time less than two months away, I’m throwing myself into the process of making certain readers know about the book. In other words, promotion.

Promotion. It’s not a four-letter word, but it might as well be. As writers, we want readers to read our books, but we would rather stay away from the actual hawking of said books. But if we don’t hawk the books, they don’t get read, and to get the books read, we have to sell them.

Hence, promotion.

I’ve never yet gotten a real handle on the promotion thing. I would love to be one of those writers who writes only and hires someone to do all the dirty work for her. Tweeting and Facebooking and advertising…everything short of standing on the corner of Main and Broad yelling, “Buy my book! You’ll love it!”

But that’s not really possible, is it? I have to promote my book, but why can’t I have fun with it? So I’ve decided on June 15, I’m going to host a big party here, complete with party favors (i.e. e-giveaways) and a grand door prize of a Kindle Fire. Please spread the word. Invite your friends. And here’s your invitation:img_3990

One last note, I’m running a campaign on Thunderclap to promote the launch party, too. If you’d like to support the campaign, here’s a link: Help Me Launch Out of Time. Remember, I’m promoting the launch party, which will hopefully promote the book, but no purchase is necessary to participate! Just come and join the fun, and maybe take home some goodies!

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