Rob’s Ramblings: Character Origins

Todd Searls mentioned that he liked seeing under the hood yesterday, and when I thought about his comment, I realized I love that from my favorite creators too.

One of my basic principles is to be the author I want be a fan of. Write the stuff I want to read and interact the way I want to be interacted with. So I’ll do some more of these posts, especially now while None Call Me Mother is new and fresh in my mind. In this one I’ll discuss some of the things I thought of while designing a few characters.

Irina Ivanovna

Irina Ivanovna is probably the most important character I’ve ever designed, not simply because she is the key to this story, but also because she shaped the entirety of Periaslavl and hence, much of the entire world.

I love Star Wars, but as I’ve gotten older, the Luke Skywalker character gets really boring. It’s a common fantasy trope, of course, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. How could I create a character than had all that “destiny” but knew a ton, yet didn’t know anything? That’s a thought exercise, let me tell you.

What if the character’s been sheltered? What if their limitation is that they’ve been focused on something else, not living in the world. And that led to the idea of the velikomat, or Great Mother, of Periaslavl. I won’t get into some of the reasons behind why Periaslavl made sense for this because it’d be a spoiler, but I had here a vehicle to make sure that the Great Mothers lived for a looooong time.

During the events in None Call Me Mother, Irina is 140 years old but her body is still that of a teenager. M-a-a-a-gic. If it’s a fantasy world, I should darn well use it.

Making her a ruler with all this experience and power meant she knew all sorts of top-end things. How much food an oblast would need to make it through the winter. How many troops Periaslavl could support. What was the Empire going to do? Or Svellheim. And so on.

Yet, of course, she’s never really been a person. She was chosen at 16 to be the Great Daughter, and for 124 years her life has been nothing but ruling Periaslavl. It’s a great set of experiences for a character, but it’s also a great set of non-experiences. I had a ton of fun playing with those things she never experienced or, more importantly for one kinetic reason, didn’t remember.

So there’s my callow character of “destiny.” I really have a problem doing the easy thing, don’t I?

One last note about Irina. My mom’s mom’s name was Irene. Yeah, I’m shallow, but I loved making that connection as the “Great Mother.” You should all expect this, by the way, because my mom’s dad’s name is Edward.

Eleonore Drechsler

The second character I’m going to look at is Eleonore Drechsler. I’ll start with her name. I use a random generator on Behind the Names. It’s a fantastic site, one of the most useful on the internet. I had to laugh at this name when it came up, because one of my favorite basketball players ever is Clyde Drexler. Ha! I slay myself.

Anyway, in many ways she draws from the same sort of fallen paladin ideas I often love. In some ways, she’s a hard-edged version of Edward. Sometimes it’s fun to write a good guy doing bad things. Really bad things.

Eleonore had to be a great warrior. More important, a skilled leader. I needed to inject a bit of skill into the cesspool that is the Kreisens anyway, and Demmenkreisen, as one of the largest and most powerful Kreisens was a good place for it. That it was in the exact right place (thank you, Adam, which I might touch on in a different post), was a bonus.

Part of the reason that it was important to me that she was a leader is that I needed that to be able to break her down. She has to take a path, not an easy path, but the one that seems easiest for someone who’s enraged. I think most people get enraged not on their own behalf, but on behalf of those close to them.

Her character arc, then, is to screw up but then spend the rest of the series overcoming her mistake. In many ways, this is my favorite arc because it’s something we all do. Her part of the epic battle is perhaps the most subtle, as she cannot win her fight. She can, however, slow the magic that’s attacking her and thereby give the others a chance to win. I probably make this too subtle in the book, because as a set of actions it’s not terribly active, but I, at least, know what battle she faced, and it’s one that I rather enjoyed.

Etain Muirghein

Many of you know the story behind a bunch of characters that appeared in Brief Is My Flame. These were a bunch of redshirts as part of a fundraiser for a great guy who had some health issues.

Obviously, I won’t go into these characters’ origins, because if you know the person redshirted, you’ll catch the references and if you don’t, you won’t care. However, I did want to touch on a few ways these redshirts helped shape Shijuren and the story.

Etain Muirghein was a character I mentioned briefly in I Am a Wondrous Thing. As the Thalassocrat of the Western Isles, she had a part to play in the political maneuvering between realms. However, I didn’t say anything else about her at the time.

Then I was asked to redshirt someone I really respect who helped shape Calontir. Etain suddenly became a great vehicle for that, and so I put in all of her I could. Feisty, tough, awesome. I even added her dog, sort of. It’s named Madra Te in the books, which is a great pun for those who know her.

Anyway, that meant I had to put Etain into some of the action. I hadn’t anticipated that I’d do anything really involving the Western Isles or anything on that end of the Kreisens, but in the end it became a fantastic vector to get to the end.

Plus, I got to write fantasy ship battles using another redshirt, and have both die gloriously. Man, that worked out well, and it’s all because I had to fit this redshirt somewhere and Etain was the absolute right place.

So there you go. A bit of a sketch behind three of the most important characters in the series. There was some serendipity involved in these characters, but at least I was smart enough to recognize it when it hit me upside the head. Serendipity’s got a punch, let me tell you.

Rob’s Ramblings: Climbing the Mountain

Greetings all

None Call Me Mother comes out tomorrow!

I keep talking about how much I’m excited about this release, and it’s all true. I have scaled this mountain.

There were times I doubted I’d make it. However, it’s here, and it’s good. One of the reasons I think many people become authors is that they want to write the stories they want to read. I have re-read all of this series in the past week and it’s my kind of story.

Anyway, I thought I’d take a moment and talk about some of the things I discovered while writing this series. This series, more than anything else I’ve written, changed my processes.

First and foremost, I screwed up at the start of all this. I’m a pantser, meaning I write by the seat of my pants.

For the Edward stories, this works great. However, part of that’s because everything in those stories comes from the single window of the first person POV. The author can have a more limited view because both the character and the reader have that same limited view. We all expect certain things to happen off screen.

The Kreisens has a completely different structure. Yes, I want the character and the reader to have limited views, but for those limited views to mesh at the end required me to know everything behind those views.

I didn’t do this well.

I came close. I didn’t have to retcon anything important. I don’t see any huge plot holes, and neither did my editor. However, I missed opportunities for fun plants and hints in I Am a Wondrous Thing that I really regret. I also have great plot ideas that in the end I couldn’t use because to do so would have required major retconning I wasn’t willing to do.

So the first thing I will change the next time I write a multi-book story arc will be to either plot significantly (unlikely), or write all of it at once and release the trilogy (or whatever) in sequence with little need for change. A series is one kind of animal. A trilogy is another.

Second, my production process was flawed. Some of this was experience. I’ve gotten better at writing blurbs, for example. It’s its own craft and one I continue to practice.

However, I’ve never been pleased with myself in my original release of I Am a Wondrous Thing. A Lake Most Deep suffers from a number of issues, but that doesn’t bother me as much because it was my first book, and first books *always* have issues. Live, learn, get better.

But I Am a Wondrous Thing was book three and I just simply didn’t do a great job producing it. Of all my books, it had the most typos/mistakes. I would have made a much more active cover. It had the most extraneous words. The blurb wasn’t great.

It’s especially frustrating now because I see these things so clearly and at the same time I see a great story.

The good news about being an independent writer is I can fix some of these things relatively easily. Live, learn, get better, after all. I Am a Wondrous Thing made me do all three.

The biggest change was to add a verbal read-through editing pass. I now print off the entire book or short story and read it out loud (when the cats let me). While my editor does a great job, this pass lets me catch some things simply because I’m reading the page differently. Also, it helps me see words that aren’t necessary. Most importantly, I think, is it shows me when I’ve arranged a sentence badly, something I am wont to do. If I can’t read it out loud smoothly, then it needs to be rephrased or cut.

This one thing has dramatically improved the quality of my stuff, and I’ve done it with everything I’ve written ever since.

As part of the None Call Me Mother release, I wanted to make sure both I Am a Wondrous Thing and Brief Is My Flame matched.

So I did a verbal read-through editing pass on I Am a Wondrous Thing. It’s much stronger now, much sleeker. As I said, I didn’t retcon anything major, but I did add a few hints and plants that mesh better with the events in None Call Me Mother. In many cases, this was literally changing one word to another, even to the point of changing an “and” to a “but.”

Along the way, I also realized my method for novel organization had flaws. I like having a section where I can discuss the people who helped, things about the current book, and that sort of stuff. That’s why I wrote a Foreword in the first place. However, that gets in the way of the reader reaching the story. so I changed it to an Afterword.

All three novels now have the same internal structure on the electronic versions. There are some challenges to making that true for the print versions, but those will be completed by the end of the week, I think. All three will look and feel the same inside, except of course for the story itself.

Side note: This may or may not show up yet with existing readers by the way. There’s supposed to be an update feature with Amazon so you get the latest version. However, it’s not working on my copies, so I’ve sent them a message to ask what’s going on. Also, this obviously doesn’t change the physical copies. Keep those. They’ll be collector’s items someday.

In the past, I have put dates and locations on each chapter. I have also gotten feedback that this distracted the reader without really adding anything. Some of you will prefer having those details, and I will continue to make sure the time continuity works on my initial drafts, but they make the story ponderous at times.

A third thing getting in the way of readers were the wiki links.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the wiki is a great thing. For me, it’s a place to do my world-building, serves as my bible, and gives me a bunch of story ideas. For readers, it allows them a chance to really grok Shijuren. Again, my basic philosophy as a writer is to provide the content I want from those authors I love.

However, the links *in the prose* got in the way of some readers. Hence, I’ve done a compromise. The story itself has no links, but the appendices do.  It’s all in the wiki, and you can go directly to it from the appendices, but there’s no link distracting the reader in the middle of a sentence.

Readers are, after all, what’s important in all of this. All of these changes are based on comments made to me by you guys and I haven’t even touched on my changes to my prose. I continue to work toward streamlined, faster prose because again that’s easier to read, but I also strive to produce the books well. I’m getting there.

But I have scaled this particular peak. As of tomorrow, The Kreisens is a complete unit, freshly touched up, and fully annotated in a revamped and improved wiki. Best of all, I love it.

What a great thing to be able to say.

 

 

Rob’s Update: None Call Me Mother on Tuesday

Week 46 of 2020

Greetings all

None Call Me Mother will go live on Tuesday!

I’m really excited to complete this series. It’s been a long, educational, and stressful road, but it’s finally done. And it rocks.

There’ll be a number of posts this week about the release, along with a blog post on some of the changes in my production process.

As part of this, I am updating both I Am a Wondrous Thing and Brief is My Flame in order to match some of the new production values. If you have those, I’ll let you know to look for updates on your Kindle.

So it’s been a busy and really productive week around here.

I also started my yearly freebie story  for people on my mailing list, the second in the Nick Patara, PI stories. This one is entitled Upon a Midnight Clear.

By the way, the one I wrote for last year, Silent Knight, will be released on Amazon in December. So, if you’re not on my mailing list, you can still read this story, which I have to say is really fun.

Of course, if you  want it free, along with the new story on Christmas, just join my mailing list. You can subscribe on my website at: www.robhowell.org.

What I’m Listening To

A wretched hive of scum and villainy. Worse than the one you’re thinking of 😀

Quote of the Week

Robert Feldacker has written a number of fantastic songs. He graciously allowed me to quote one of my favorites in None Call Me Mother, because it fit perfectly with one tiny change. I suspect you’ll figure out the word I changed when you compare the title to the quote I used.

“Tall and mighty towers by the coast of the sea,
Raise their dark empty spires in forlorn misery.
Crumbling grain by grain to the cold ocean spray,
And cursing the Northmen as they wither away.”
– Robert Feldacker, Cursing the Normans

News and Works in Progress

  • The Ravening of Wolves (32,068)
  • ACP (10,077)
  • Upon a Midnight Clear (1,812)
  • CB (8,418)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Lots more Wiki additions, now up to about 500 entries.

Upcoming Events

New Releases

This week’s spotlight is on William Joseph Roberts, who just released another entry in the Fallen World universe entitled Wildcat: Foreclosure of a Dream. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08NSYFCZK.

Today’s Weight: 352.6

Updated Word Count: 245,112

Shijuren Wiki: 496 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: Great Feast for Ravens

Week 45 of 2020

Greetings all

What a really productive week here in Robland. I finished my read-through of None Call Me Mother, and I’ll have all the tweaks and details finished on the manuscript no later than Monday. Probably tomorrow. That’s even with taking time off today to game.

It was actually the swiftest verbal read-through I’ve had so far, in part because I kept wanting to read more. I still cry at the spots I want to cry at and I get excited in the battle scenes. One of the reasons I think writers start writing is they want the kind of fiction they want to read themselves. I love this series. I’ve hated writing it at times, but now it’s something I’m really proud of.

I also had time this week to finish another Shijuren story, this one set in Achrida involving Edward and the characters there. It’s a twist though. Let’s just say, I chose the most unlikely, most reluctant hero I could think of for my entry in the anthology. Anyway, it needs editing, but it’s not vaporware.

Speaking of which, I got completely caught up on that, too. What a week. We even decided upon a title. The title of Libri Valoris II will be: Songs of Valor.

I did some work on the wiki, too, of course, though a lot of it was to create links and placeholders to finish a hyperlinked version of the manuscript. That’s what I’m going to be doing today.

I stacked a lot of productive days this past week and it’s time for me to start on next week.

What I’m Listening To

Songs from the Wood by Jethro Tull. It should come as no surprise that I really enjoy Tull’s weird combination of music. Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day is in my top 10 ever.

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote comes from the Ruriksaga. What’s the Ruriksaga? Glad you asked. It’s the story of how Periaslavl came to be in Shijuren. I thought it was time to use my poetry skills again so I added part of it to the story.

Volodomyr spoke,            son of Rurik
Here my father fell,          fated for Woden’s hall
Our ring-giver gifted        great feast for ravens
His spear shattered          his sword sundered
In the flickering                 of flame’s glory
We shall remember           rightly of his deeds
Now feed to fire’s wrath   my father’s life-house
And here a hall                  high shall we raise
He shall be called              king in mind-songs
Ruriksaga

News and Works in Progress

  • The Ravening of Wolves (32,068)
  • ACP (10,077)
  • CB (8,418)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Lots of Wiki Additions.

Upcoming Events

New Releases

The first new release is from a very old friend, Kirsten Tautfest. I remember us not quite being of age drinking at Kirby’s, still one of the coolest bars ever. Anyway, she just released the 15th in her Red Tales series, called Red Tales: Compartment Syndrome. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08N5L1Q6J/.

There’s also a new 4HU story out this week! This one is by Casey Moores, and it’s got a new company that has a different mission than all the other merc units. It’s called These Things We Do: The Story of Bull, and you can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08N5ZJRYV.

Today’s Weight: 353.8

Updated Word Count: 244,421

Shijuren Wiki: 376 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: Invisible To Telescopic Eye

Week 44 of 2020

Greetings all

My big news is that I’ve been confirmed as an attending pro at DragonCon. Yes, it happened last year and rolled over, but it’s still nice getting confirmation.

It’s been a week of multiple steps forward and several steps back on my anthology short story. I know the starting and I know the end, but I’m having trouble making the path work. Getting closer, though.

None Call Me Mother is almost done. I’m in the part where I read it out loud, and I’m over a third done with the read. I’ll have the draft done this next week, except for any changes my advance readers suggest.

I also started working on my freebie story for readers on my mailing list. I introduced the main character, Nick Patara, PI in Silent Knight, last year.

Basically a week of various projects. The kind of week where I know I made progress on many things, but don’t have finished products yet.

So I better get back to work.

What I’m Listening To

The live version of Cygnus X-1 by Rush from Different Stages. There’s so much wonderful about this song. Yes, this my be why my cars are always named Rocinante.

Quote of the Week

Today is Marie Curie’s birthday, so here you go.

“I am among those who think that science has great beauty.”
– Marie Curie

News and Works in Progress

  • The Ravening of Wolves (32,068)
  • KAT (5,503)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AOOE (1,030)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Much more progress on the Wiki. Up to 271 entries now and I’ll have more done later tonight.

Upcoming Events

New Releases

This week’s spotlight is on Alex Rath, who has a new book out called The Seeds of Terra. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08MPP64TD.

Also this week, if you don’t already have A Fistful of Credits, the first Four Horsemen Universe anthology, there’s a Bookbub promotion going on right now and it’s only 99 cents. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073HXKZXN/.

Today’s Weight: 354.6

Updated Word Count: 241,581

Shijuren Wiki: 301 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: Death-Pale Were They All

Week 44 of 2020

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love watching people get creative with costume ideas and decorations. There are so many times where I’m just in awe of their awesome ideas. Of course, there are many times I’m just in awe of their awful ideas. Ah, well, trick or treat, of a sort.

I’ve spent the bulk of this week removing crutch words out of None Call Me Mother, which is coming out on 24 November. My  crutch words are usually things like shrug, chuckle, laugh, and that sort of thing. I also do too many things with peoples eyes.

Much of the time, the best solution is to get rid of them. They’re often stage direction that’s really not needed. From a first full draft of 148k, I think I’ll end up at 125k of stronger faster prose.

I’ve also been hammering at rebuilding the wiki. By the 24th, it has to include all the characters and what not from the Kreisens trilogy. This isn’t just to have reference for readers if they need it, but more importantly it gives me a chance to double-check things. I’ve found a number of mistakes/inconsistencies that I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t double-checked with the wiki. In a world of already something like 700k published words (as of 24 November), there will be issues, but a detailed bible is so useful to help prevent them.

Anyway, I’m also almost done with my short story for the next Libri Valoris. I’m setting up a character to have to make a choice. This is my norm, of course, however, the consequences for this character are just a tad different, but then, so is she.

I hope everyone gets a chance to wear something silly, eat candy, and admire the pole dancing skeleton display on the internet.

What I’m Listening To

Langt Nord I Trollebotten is a song by a band called Lumsk you’ve never heard of. They’re a Norwegian folk metal band and this is one of my all time favorite songs. It seems like every folk metal band has at least one truly amazing instrumental song. Pellonpekko for Korpiklaani for example, or Wolf Ritual by  Tengger Cavalry. This is Lumsk’s and it’s amazing. I can’t listen to any of these three songs just once. I always hit rewind for a few more listens before moving on.

Quote of the Week

Since it’s Halloween, here’s a creepy quote from Keats. It’s the last 3 stanzas of La Belle Dame sans Merci, which you can read in its entirety here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44475/la-belle-dame-sans-merci-a-ballad. I actually learned this poem because Robert B. Parker named a Spenser book, Pale Kings and Princes. Just another reason I loved reading his stuff.

I saw pale kings and princes too,
       Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci
       Thee hath in thrall!’
I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
       With horrid warning gapèd wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
       On the cold hill’s side.
And this is why I sojourn here,
       Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
       And no birds sing.

– John Keats, La Belle Dame sans Merci

News and Works in Progress

  • The Ravening of Wolves (32,068)
  • KAT (4,982)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AOOE (1,030)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Too many wiki additions to list.

New Releases

This week’s spotlight is Jamie Ibson, who just released another novel in Christopher Woods’ Fallen World setting. Ibson’s is called Pacific Shogun. You might recognize Jamie as the editor of the We Dare books, but this is him on his own. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08M418TXV.

Also out this week is Chris Kennedy’s Indie Publishing for Profit: How to Get Your Book Out of Your Head and Into the Stores. It’s the second of his Author Fundamentals books and you can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08LR3G1FD.

Today’s Weight: 356.4

Updated Word Count: 240,925

Shijuren Wiki: 230 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: NCMM Out On 24 November

Week 43 of 2020

Greetings all

My editor has returned None Call Me Mother so we’re in the final stretch! Hence I can announce that I’ll be releasing it on the 24th of November! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

I’m incredibly excited to be at this point. It has been a heck of a road, but not only did a learn a ton, I made a story that makes me weep at the end, which is always a great sign.

I also made nice progress on the anthology this week. Several stories are done, edited, and ready to go. It’s going to be great.

I’ve been working on my story for it, and it’ll probably be done next week. I really like where it’s going, with a main character I never expected would ever be a main character.

Now to get None Call Me Mother to the advance readers. By the way, if you’re interested in being an advance reader, let me know. You get to read my books ahead of time after all.

Hope you all have as a great a day as I am having.

What I’m Listening To

“Nocturne” by Rush. This is actually the perfect song for the moment.

Quote of the Week

It’s perfect because it’s about dreams and what they mean to us. This particular quote describes writing a novel perfectly.

“Set off on a night-sea journey
Without memory or desire
Drifting through lost latitudes
With no compass and no chart”
– “Nocturne,” by Rush

News and Works in Progress

  • The Ravening of Wolves (32,068)
  • KAT (3,743)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AOOE (1,030)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • A ton of new wiki additions. It’s making huge progress.

New Releases

This week’s spotlight is on the 4HU, with Mark Wandrey and Marisa Wolf giving us Night Song. I will not make any puns about Marisa’s last name. None at all. Despite the fact, this one stars some Zuul. You know, the aliens who are very Wolf-like? No, I’ll not make any real puns about her last name. Not because I’m generous. No, it’s the simple truth that my last name is, in this context, not without risk.

Anyway, you can find Night Song here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08LKFKGK4/

Today’s Weight: 356.4

Updated Word Count: 240,043

Shijuren Wiki: 138 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Weekly Update: Coming to Life

Week 42 of 2020

Greetings all

A couple of bits of big news this week. First, The Feeding of Sorrows is now available on Audible. James Patrick Cronin did a great job of bringing the Queen Elizabeth’s Own Foresters to life. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07T3B8BGB/.

None Call Me Mother
Cover of None Call Me Mother

Second, I was able to reveal the great cover for None Call Me Mother. Isn’t it lovely? Thanks to Patrick McEvoy for doing another great job. You can find some of his other stuff at https://www.megaflowgraphics.com/.

This has been a wonderfully productive week, as well. I haven’t written a ton of new stuff, but I’ve been doing a bunch of pre-production for None Call Me Mother. Much of this has been focused on getting the wiki and thus the links ready for the release.

In general, I’ve been working on expanding the Shijuren wiki to provide more information and yet streamline it. To do this, I’m using wiki headers much more, as well as expanding my understanding of wiki formatting. The wiki is already much stronger and faster than it ever was, and the foundation is much better. You can find it here: https://shijuren.org/tiki-index.php.

I’ve also started some of the serious editing for the new anthology. You’re going to love it, assuming of course you want action, adventure, magic, and intrigue. If you want boring stuff, read elsewhere.

While I focused on other things, I did manage to get several thousand words written. As sometimes happens, though, the first story I intended for the anthology didn’t really work. Oh, it’s interesting back story for Ragnar and Zoe, and you’ll see it all eventually, but let’s just say I’m writing about the most unlikely hero in all of Shijuren.

Well, back to work. Have a great week everyone.

What I’m Listening To

Sabaton’s Panzerkampf. I love Sabaton’s operatic metal fused with historial themes. It’s like they said, let’s make our band just for this weird guy in Kansas.

Quote of the Week

The cover to None Call Me Mother includes one of the people I red-shirted for Mar’s fundraiser. Hence, I decided that I’ll give you all a snippet from the novel where truth becomes fiction, so to speak.

“’Huh’,” said Donnghal.”
None Call Me Mother

News and Works in Progress

  • The Ravening of Wolves (32,068)
  • CB (8,418)
  • RAZ (3,446
  • KAT (1,515)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • I went from 77 entries on the wiki to 104, so there are a ton of changes. I also cleaned up a number of underlying issues and added in more headers and header links. You’ll see that number jump up through the end of the year.

New Releases

The Feeding of Sorrows is now available on Audible. James Patrick Cronin did a great job of bringing the Queen Elizabeth’s Own Foresters to life. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07T3B8BGB/.

David Alan Jones has a new release in the Salvage Title Universe. If you like space opera, Kevin Steverson’s Salvage Title, which is here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/product/B07H8Q3HBV. Then you’ll binge all the way to Jones’s Salvage Mind, which you can find here:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08L5TXNGY.

Today’s Weight: 360.2

Updated Word Count: 238,798

Shijuren Wiki: 104 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: A New Wordhoard Unlocked

Week 41 of 2020

Greetings all

Last week, my story “An Oath’s Other Edge” was released in the flash fiction Dragons and Dribbles : A Corner Scribblers Flash Collection w/ guest author, Rob Howell. This was a great honor for me, as the Corner Scribblers, a writing group in Chattanooga invited me to contribute both a story and the introduction.

Many thanks to them.

My story in the anthology is set in Shijuren and is about the foundation of the Order of the Fortress of Rabah, the order of chivalry that to which Ausartxango had sworn his life. It’s actually about oaths challenging Rabah and his brother Jaime.

It’s also only 1000 words long. That was the prompt. Write a fantasy story with no more than 1000 words. I managed, but it was tough. It was, however, a fantastic exercise, and one I will do again.

I also wrote the introduction. They wanted something to encourage writers, so I basically expanded on the basic point I often say in panels: There is one true way of writing and it’s what helps you get words on the page. Doesn’t matter if it does or doesn’t work for whichever big name you love, it only matters if it helps you get words on the page.

Coming up on Tuesday is the audiobook release of the The Feeding of Sorrows. James Patrick Cronin did the narration and did a fantastic job. It’s on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08K9DX13G/.

As mentioned, it’s on pre-order for Audible now and released on Tuesday. It is also, of course, available at the same link in both e-book and paperbook form.

A week of releases is always a good week, even if I didn’t make as much progress on more words on the page myself. I was kind of bleah all week long, and far less productive than normal. It happens, and it only really matters if I get mad at myself for it.

So, I’m not. Easy to say, but I think I’ll be able to avoid getting the downs. A good week will make a difference, and I expect to be productive. Also, I did quite a bit of pre-production stuff for None Call Me Mother. At some point next week, I’ll do the cover reveal.

What I’m Listening To

“Round and Round” by Ratt. I still like this song, though it has faded somewhat during the last 30 plus years. It’s no longer a song I’ll listen to over and over. That being said, I can watch the Geico “Ratt Problem” commercial repeatedly and still laugh. They get me with that entire series.

Quote of the Week

I’ve always loved the Old English term word hoard. Such a neat way to express the concept of vocabulary. Every time I write, I feel like I am playing with the greatest wealth there could be, the words that I have hoarded from Tolkien, Forester, and all the rest. So today’s quote is from Beowulf, where he replies to the coast guard.

I’ll only do the two lines here, but if you want a great paraphrase of what Beowulf says in the poem, go watch the part of 13th Warrior where they have just landed in Hrothgar’s land and are met by the herald.

Him se yldesta ondswarode,
werodes wisa, wordhord onleac:

Him the eldest answered
With his kin’s wisdom, unlocked his wordhoard
– Beowulf, lines 258-259.

News and Works in Progress

  • The Ravening of Wolves (32,068)
  • CB (8,418)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

New Releases

This week’s spotlight is on a local guy, Erwin K Roberts, and his latest Moon Man story. He’s a huge fan of pulp, and this is in that 1930s-40s style that I love. It’s called The Moon Man Showdown on the Plains: Sherwood in America and you can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08HTM6F31.

We have another romance from CKP. Romance? Yep. He’s also publishing romance now, and here’s an anthology edited by Sheellah Kennedy and Joy Wandrey. It’s called Men in Uniform: A Steamy Romance Anthology. It’s on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KY55PCQ/.

Something you probably would expect more from one of my normal crew is Relations by Brisco Woods. This is set in Christopher Woods’s Fallen World universe, which is a lot of fun and continuing to grow. It’s here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KY55PCQ/.

Whew, I think that’s it. Oh, wait, did I mention my new Shijuren story, “An Oath’s Other Edge,” in Dragons and Dribbles : A Corner Scribblers Flash Collection w/ guest author, Rob Howell. I did? Oh, just making sure.

Today’s Weight: 360.8

Updated Word Count: 238,004

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Rob’s Update: Fall is Here

Week 40 of 2020

Greetings all

It’s about 55 here and sunny. In other words, my favorite weather. And there’s something about fall days like this that are better to me than spring days with exactly the same temp and sunshine. I don’t know why I prefer fall, maybe it’s the leaves changing as they are starting to do, but this is my favorite time of year.

I got to see a bunch of that as I drove to Virginia to meet up with Chris Kennedy and a bunch of other authors last week, which is why I never got to do my update last week. Normally, we brainstorm story ideas at cons, which we haven’t been able to do, and there’s no substitute for doing that in-person. Zoom is great and all, but not terribly conducive to creativity.

I’m in the midst of writing a couple of things right now. I’m flipping back and forth from The Ravening of Wolves, where I got a number of great ideas from my conversations in Virginia, and my story for the upcoming fantasy anthology.

This anthology is going to rock, by the way.

Also, I’ve been working on production stuff for None Call Me Mother. The cover art is almost done and it’s my favorite cover so far. I’m wrestling with the blurb, as I always do. Blurbs are so much tougher than writing a novel.

In only 11 days, The Feeding of Sorrows comes out on audiobook. I’ve listened to the proofs and they are excellent. James Patrick Cronin did a fantastic job.

Well, time to make dinner and then go get my sweetie some ice cream. Have a great week everyone.

What I’m Listening To

The .mp3s for The Feeding of Sorrows. James Patrick Cronin is fantastic.

Quote of the Week

Speaking of audiobooks, I listened to John Lithgow’s From Song of Myself on the trip. This is an amazing collection and introduction to poetry. Basically, it’s him and a bunch of friends like Helen Mirren and Gary Sinise wallowing in their love of poetry. Morgan Freeman’s rendition of We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks is worth the price of admission alone.

Anyway, since I’m in a poetic mood on a fine fall day, here’s Longfellow’s poem Autumn.

“Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain,
With banners, by great gales incessant fanned,
Brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand,
And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain!
Thou standest, like imperial Charlemagne,
Upon thy bridge of gold; thy royal hand
Outstretched with benedictions o’er the land,
Blessing the farms through all thy vast domain!
Thy shield is the red harvest moon, suspended
So long beneath the heaven’s o’er-hanging eaves;
Thy steps are by the farmer’s prayers attended;
Like flames upon an altar shine the sheaves;
And, following thee, in thy ovation splendid,
Thine almoner, the wind, scatters the golden leaves!”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

News and Works in Progress

  • The Ravening of Wolves (29,674)
  • CB (8,418)
  • RAZ (938)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

New Releases

This week’s spotlight is on a few things. First, Nick Steverson released his first novel last week, entitled Hesitation. It’s part of the Salvage Universe series, which is a lot of fun. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08JV1WRDD/.

Coming out this week is Steven Johnson’s Operation Reaper. This is a fun series involving WW2 GIs fighting all sorts of supernatural creatures. You can find this one here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KFZ64G8.

Today’s Weight: 361.0 (I was actually down to 358.8 before the trip and came back at 365.2, but it’s settling back down)

Updated Word Count: 239,585

Shijuren Wiki: 77 entries

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

If you think you received this email incorrectly or wish to be unsubscribed, please send an email to shijuren-owner@robhowell.org

Opinions and fiction of person misplaced in time.

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