Rob’s Update: The Door Into Winter

Week 20 of 2022

Greetings all

Release week! The Door Into Winter is live! You can get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09ZK1GR3S/.

The Door Into Winter
The Door Into Winter

In the Halls of Winter, a wounded Giant awaits.

Irina, Ausartxango, Valentin, and Geirr chase him to Svellheim, a land of ice and secrets as old azs the mountains themselves.

The wounded Giant, filled with wrath, is aided by his old and faithful servants, corrupt nobles, and those ruled by greed, hate, and rage. He awaits his pursuers, setting a trap to claim his vengeance.

His pursuers are mighty, but they are merely human. Will their prowess prove enough against the greatest enemy Shijuren has ever known? Or will the Giant bring back an evil thought destroyed two thousand years ago?

It is, of course, the fourth book in the Eldros Legacy. If you haven’t started the series, you can get Khyven the Unkillable by Todd Fahnestock, then read them all!

Outside of the release, this was another foundational week. Getting caught up on submissions, and the overall quality is impressive. Cool new series coming your way in the summer and fall.

Also, this week, the fabulous Marisa Wolf interviewed me about my story in her upcoming Hit World: Valkyries novel. I was actually the supporting actor here because my cat Wynnifred surely stole the show. You can watch my video here: youtube.com/watch?v=lIS9Iaqs9v0.

This is actually the first video on the Chris Kennedy Publishing YouTube channel, so not only do you want to see me (along with my amazing co-star), you want to subscribe to this channel.

This next week I’ll be getting back into the writing groove with Sowing Spring’s Wrath. Time to get some of these ideas on the page.

But for now, I’m basking in another release! Thanks to all who helped make this possible, including my artist Patrick McEvoy, my editor Jonathan A. Miller, Quincy J. Allen for the layout, and a host of others who helped along the way. Thanks everyone!

What I’m Listening To

Take a Chance on Me by Abba.

You’ve caught me. I’m actually a fan of Abba. To be honest, there’s a lot of disco era music I really enjoy. Don’t tell anyone, OK?

Quote of the Week

What the heck, it’s release week, so you get a quote from The Door Into Winter. This is a line toward the end of the book by Geirr Stronghair in the final battle.

“He lifted the flaming sword over his head. ‘You want vengeance, Skadi, come and take it! Else I shall take your winter from you!'”
The Door Into Winter

Dudes In Hyperspace

Follow the Dudes In Hyperspace here:
bleav.com/shows/the-dudes-in-hyperspace-podcast/

The latest show includes us just chatting about this and that. And Ian ranting. You don’t want to miss Ian ranting.

Cool Stuff In Eldros Legacy

Get five free stories and signed up with the Eldros Legacy mailing list! Here There Be Giants is at: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/qabsr57lq3+.

Deadly Fortune by Aaron Rosenberg is coming soon!

Currently available:

Get all the Eldros Legacy novels at: amazon.com/dp/B09Z9WVKYV

New Mythology Works in Progress

2023 FantaSci Short Story Contest open call.

The theme is Bonds of Valor, and you story must include deeds of valor centered around bonds between characters. This could be a romantic relationship, a buddy adventure, oaths to kings, or whatever you can come up with.

Deadline: November 30th, 2022
Word Count: 7-10,000 words
Specifics: Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1.5 line spaced.

It must also be a fantasy story. Any type is welcome, urban, epic, high, western, gothic, whatever, it just have to have magic. Finally, it cannot have been published anywhere else before.

I’m currently working on The Door Into Winter, my next novel.

Giveaways
Tales of the Future
Tales of the Future

Tales of the Future

books.bookfunnel.com/maysff001a/hqjxwa6r8l

Rob’s Works in Progress
  • Sowing Spring’s Wrath
  • Rick Blaine (8,845)
  • CB (8,418)
Upcoming Events
New Releases

The Door Into Winter is live! You can get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09ZK1GR3S/.

This week we also had We Dare 4: Wanted, Dead or Alive, another SF anthology from Jamie Ibson. This includes Rick Partlow, Griffin Barber, and a bunch of other great writers. Get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09ZH6PWZS.

Tracked Items

Today’s Weight: 322.2

Updated Word Count: 138,740

Eldros Legacy Archives: 813 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

Founder in the Eldros Legacy series

Rob’s Update: Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Week 19 of 2022

Greetings all

The Door Into Winter
The Door Into Winter

The big news is the release of The Door Into Winter, coming next Tuesday! This is the first novel of mine published under the Eldros Legacy umbrella and the fourth novel in the series.

In this, some characters you may know (Irina, Ausartxango, Geirr, and Valentin) head to Svellheim to chase a Giant. Lots of action and adventure, and an ending that came together in a way that I didn’t expect.

To get all the Eldros Legacy books, go here: amazon.com/dp/B09Z9WVKYV

Now that I’m a week away from Planet Comicon and can breathe a bit again, I want to chat about one of the best parts of going to cons in general, and those multimedia ones in particular. That is, of course, getting to see what so many others are doing, even if all you can really focus on are the people who are across the aisle from you or down the row.

This year, I was across from an artist named Nathan Lueth. He’s got a new release, The Canon of Vangel, which I’ll be pushing in the New Releases section below. Here’s a sample of his art, which I thought was tremendous:

Canon of Vangel
Canon of Vangel

He’s just one of many I chatted with during the weekend. If you’re starting in this business, I heartily encourage attending cons. They may or not make money from sales, but they’re invaluable networking and publicity outlets if you can afford them.

Anyway, I spent this week cleaning out stuff and taking things slow after hammering a bunch of stuff out the previous two months.

Part of that, of course, was wallowing in the NFL Draft. This was an especially interesting draft because for once, the QBs didn’t drive the process.

Sunday, my sweetie and I took a bit of a road trip and also got to see my parents for dinner. Such an enjoyable day.

With that, though, I better get back to work. For some reason, these stories don’t just edit themselves.

What I’m Listening To

The Main Monkey Business by Rush. One of two amazing instrumentals on Snakes and Arrows.

Quote of the Week

On this day in 1260, Kublai Khan becomes ruler of the Mongol Empire. So, that of course means…

“It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!”

Imagine how much more awesome the poem could have been if Coleridge hadn’t been interrupted?

– Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Dudes In Hyperspace

Follow the Dudes In Hyperspace here:
bleav.com/shows/the-dudes-in-hyperspace-podcast/

The latest show includes discussions on character building.

We skipped a week, by the way, because Ian and his wife are celebrating their wedding anniversary. We’ll be back next week!

Cool Stuff In Eldros Legacy

Get five free stories and signed up with the Eldros Legacy mailing list! Here There Be Giants is at: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/qabsr57lq3+.

The Door Into Winter comes out on Tuesday.

In the Halls of Winter, a wounded Giant awaits.

Irina, Ausartxango, Valentin, and Geirr chase him to Svellheim, a land of ice and secrets as old as the mountains themselves.

The wounded Giant, filled with wrath, is aided by his old and faithful servants, corrupt nobles, and those ruled by greed, hate, and rage. He awaits his pursuers, setting a trap to claim his vengeance.

His pursuers are mighty, but they are merely human. Will their prowess prove enough against the greatest enemy Shijuren has ever known? Or will the Giant bring back an evil thought destroyed two thousand years ago?

Currently available:

Get all the Eldros Legacy novels at: amazon.com/dp/B09Z9WVKYV

New Mythology Works in Progress

2023 FantaSci Short Story Contest open call.

The theme is Bonds of Valor, and you story must include deeds of valor centered around bonds between characters. This could be a romantic relationship, a buddy adventure, oaths to kings, or whatever you can come up with.

Deadline: November 30th, 2022
Word Count: 7-10,000 words
Specifics: Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1.5 line spaced.

It must also be a fantasy story. Any type is welcome, urban, epic, high, western, gothic, whatever, it just have to have magic. Finally, it cannot have been published anywhere else before.

I’m currently working on The Door Into Winter, my next novel.

Giveaways
Searching for your next favorite story?
Searching for your next favorite story?

Searching for your next favorite story?

books.bookfunnel.com/wolfstonekickstarter/jotcoxpd4j

Mid-April Military Fantasy/Sci-Fi Giveaway!
Mid-April Military Fantasy/Sci-Fi Giveaway!
Upcoming Events
New Releases

What a great week for new stuff!

Of course, there’s the Canon of Vangel from Nathan Rueth I mention above. You can get it here: canonofvangel.com/

Dave Butler came out with a new novel this week, Abbott in Darkness. It’s not a CKP or NMP book, but it is Dave Butler, so it goes on the list. You can get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09X61NNNW

This week there’s also a new Four Horsemen novel, The Executioners by Jason Cordova and Matt Novotny.

Tracked Items

Today’s Weight: 319.2

Updated Word Count: 137,931

Eldros Legacy Archives: 813 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

Founder in the Eldros Legacy series

Rob’s Update: NFL Draft Week

Week 18 of 2022

Greetings all

It’s the week of the NFL Draft!

Yes, I know I’m crazy, but I really love the draft. I enjoy the research and studying prospects, and I tend to keep track of my pet cats throughout their careers, especially the ones that go in the later rounds.

If you want a non-first round pick that seems like someone that’ll be fun to follow, I’d suggest Bernhard Raimann. He’s an Austrian kid who played on a youth American football team in Vienna. He started as a wide receiver, got bigger and played tight end, and now he’s an intriguing offensive tackle prospect. He’s a little old, and not the biggest out there, but he’s got good athleticism and might be something. He’ll hear his name called tomorrow.

The Door Into Winter
The Door Into Winter

Anyway, it’s been a really productive week. The Door Into Winter went out to the review team. And guess what! We have a cover reveal. I love this cover. It’s so kinetic and the colors match me.

The week actually started with Planet Comicon. I had a great time and I had my best-selling year yet. My feet hurt, though. Been a while since I’ve had to do that sort of thing.

I also finished an editing project that I’ll be talking about much more down the road.

I’ve started working on the sequel to The Door Into Winter, which I’m tentatively titling Sowing Spring’s Wrath. Mostly, I’ve been playing around with some Save the Cat Beat Sheet ideas.

I’ve got a ton of projects in the wings coming, and I’m really excited about what we’ll be bringing in the summer and fall.

What I’m Listening To

I’m listening to draft coverage on the Dallas Cowboys network, which is actually one of the best across the board draft shows around.

Quote of the Week

This quote comes from the performer at the first concert I ever went to. My mom took me to see Willie Nelson at Cessna Stadium, the Wichita State football stadium, when I was in 7th grade or so. Fun, strange experience. Anyway, Willie’s birthday is today, and here’s a great quote from him.

Indecision may or may not be our biggest problem.
– Willie Nelson

Dudes In Hyperspace

Follow the Dudes In Hyperspace here:
bleav.com/shows/the-dudes-in-hyperspace-podcast/

The latest show includes discussions on character building.

Cool Stuff In Eldros Legacy

Get five free stories and signed up with the Eldros Legacy mailing list! Here There Be Giants is at: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/qabsr57lq3+.

The Door Into Winter comes out on the 10th of May!

Currently available:

New Mythology Works in Progress

2023 FantaSci Short Story Contest open call.

The theme is Bonds of Valor, and you story must include deeds of valor centered around bonds between characters. This could be a romantic relationship, a buddy adventure, oaths to kings, or whatever you can come up with.

Deadline: November 30th, 2022
Word Count: 7-10,000 words
Specifics: Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1.5 line spaced.

I’m currently working on The Door Into Winter, my next novel.

Giveaways
Tales of the Future
Tales of the Future

 

Tales of the Future

books.bookfunnel.com/maysff001a/hqjxwa6r8l

Military Space Opera and Cyborgs
Military Space Opera and Cyborgs

Military Space Opera and Cyborgs

storyoriginapp.com/bundles/04d190a6-a86b-11ec-bd85-dfe21ce89d01?bundleLinkId=CBbHu1T

Boundless
Boundless

 

 

Boundless

storyoriginapp.com/bundles/b9cecff0-a3e3-11ec-aebd-5b561e3fd270?bundleLinkId=vfqwZMt

Rob’s Works in Progress

  • The Door Into Winter (1,043)
  • Rick Blaine (8,845)
  • CB (8,418)
  • VAL (571)
Upcoming Events
  • Updated list coming soon

New Releases

Another Steverson with another Salvage Title story. Stop me if you’ve heard this before! This time, it’s Nick Steverson, with Consequences. You can get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09YC47GMG.

Tracked Items

Today’s Weight: 323.2

Updated Word Count: 137,048

Eldros Legacy Archives: 813 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

Founder in the Eldros Legacy series

Rob’s Update: When the Dragons Grow Too Mighty

Week 17 of 2022

Greetings all

This was one of those weeks where I did a bunch of work, but it’s not something that turns into specific product yet. Lots of editing, some small projects, and so on.

However, that all changes this weekend with Planet Comicon. I’ll be in booth 1746 all weekend, and I look forward to chatting with so many people.

These kind of big comicons are exhausting, and I’ll be dragging on Sunday, but they’re also inspiring and give me a great creative push, at least once I can get my head back above water.

I’ve a bunch of friends there too. Todd Fahnestock, James Young, Jennifer Stolzer, and a host of others. That’s part of the fun, and it’s been way too long since I’ve seen a bunch of these.

The Door Into Winter comes out on the 10th of May, and of course, that’s also exciting. Release dates are kind of like Christmas, in that you have to wait to open the presents, or in this case, the response.

I’m going to cut it short for now, because I set up today and we also recorded another Dudes in Hyperspace podcast, and I’m beat.

What I’m Listening To

The clacking of my mechanical keyboard. I’m so tired I didn’t put on my headphones to listen to anything.

Quote of the Week

Yesterday I got to see Primus for the first time. They’ve been on my list, and this was especially the concert for me as they played all of Rush’s A Farewell to Kings. They did really well, and it’s been a while since I had a Rush quote. This one’s from Madrigal, which is not one of Rush’s more well-known songs, but I love these lyrics.

And I’m so lucky to have finally found the “you” mentioned in the last line.

When the dragons grow too mighty
To slay with pen or sword
I grow weary of the battle
And the storm I walk toward
When all around is madness
And there’s no safe port in view
I long to turn my path homeward
To stop awhile with you
– Rush, Madrigal

Dudes In Hyperspace

Follow the Dudes In Hyperspace here:
bleav.com/shows/the-dudes-in-hyperspace-podcast/

The latest show includes stuff on the Masters, which didn’t turn out nearly as dramatic as they often do.

Cool Stuff In Eldros Legacy

Get five free stories and signed up with the Eldros Legacy mailing list! Here There Be Giants is at: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/qabsr57lq3+.

The Door Into Winter by me is coming soon!

Currently available:

New Mythology Works in Progress

2023 FantaSci Short Story Contest open call.

The theme is Bonds of Valor, and you story must include deeds of valor centered around bonds between characters. This could be a romantic relationship, a buddy adventure, oaths to kings, or whatever you can come up with.

Deadline: November 30th, 2022
Word Count: 7-10,000 words
Specifics: Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1.5 line spaced.

I’m currently working on The Door Into Winter, my next novel.

Giveaways

None this week so you can take a break. As one subscriber said, I’m running out of time with all this awesome free stuff! More to come next week, so better catch up quick.

Rob’s Works in Progress
  • Rick Blaine (8,845)
  • CB (8,418)
  • VAL (571)
Upcoming Events
New Releases

New stuff in the Fallen World! Among the Embers is a new anthology with Kevin Steverson, Marisa Wolf, Jon R. Osborne, and, of course, the universe founder, Christopher Woods, plus a bunch of other great authors. You can get it here:

Tracked Items

Today’s Weight: 322.6

Updated Word Count: 136,524

Eldros Legacy Archives: 813 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

Founder in the Eldros Legacy series

Rob’s Update: The Door Is Opening

Week 16 of 2022

Greetings all

It’s always exciting when I finish a big editing pass on a novel. The Door Into Winter went off to the editor and will come out on the 10th of May.

For those who thought I said the 9th, I did, but only because I apparently can’t read a calendar. The 9th is a Monday, and we do our releases on Tuesday. One day I’ll learn how these calendar thingamajigs work.

Anyway, I love how The Door Into Winter. I always go into that big edit knowing I’ve got some weak spots, places where the narrative isn’t as strong as it needs to be. But that’s why I do this particular pass, and it’s a terrific story.

I love stories of heroes doing heroic things, so that’s what I always write, and this has all that.

Also, of course, we’re still celebrating Aaron Rosenberg’s amazing story of skullduggery and mayhem, Deadly Fortune. Thanks to all of you who supported the release.

This week, I’ve turned my attention to Embers & Ash, by Marie Whittaker. This has more of a gothic fantasy feel. It’s a about a princess coming of age to ascend to a cursed throne. Fun stuff.

I also started on a new project that I can’t talk about just yet, but I’m loving it so far. More of a mil-fantasy thing.

Tonight, I’m headed off for a small trip with the sweetie to see the stepdaughter. Most importantly, she and her fiance are now in a place to take their kitty back, so it’ll be a meow-filled ride.

With that, I better get moving.

What I’m Listening To

Chop Suey by System of a Down. Such a great song to jam to.

Quote of the Week

Here’s a teaser quote from The Door Into Winter. Something I’ve always wanted in Shijuren were dwarves, my favorite of the standard D&D/Tolkien-style races. We’re calling them Delvers, or in Svellheim, the Dvergr.

Here’s something from a pair of new characters:

Sakhroa took a deep breath. “We mine in uncertain stone. I cannot but continue to dig, yet without bolstering it will collapse and slay us all.”

“Should this vein prove fruitful, I shall bring you that bolstering.” Karreka bowed slightly. “The path inside is fraught with peril.”

“The path outside is treacherous,” replied Sakhroa.

“Only in paths conjoined can we preserve our kin,” they said in unison.
The Door Into Winter

PS: I also added undead, which I absolutely love as bad guys.

Dudes In Hyperspace

Follow the Dudes In Hyperspace here:
bleav.com/shows/the-dudes-in-hyperspace-podcast/

The latest show includes stuff on the Masters, which didn’t turn out nearly as dramatic as they often do. .

Cool Stuff In Eldros Legacy

Get five free stories and signed up with the Eldros Legacy mailing list! Here There Be Giants is at: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/qabsr57lq3+.

The Door Into Winter by me is coming May 10th!

Currently available:

New Mythology Works in Progress

2023 FantaSci Short Story Contest open call.

The theme is Bonds of Valor, and you story must include deeds of valor centered around bonds between characters. This could be a romantic relationship, a buddy adventure, oaths to kings, or whatever you can come up with.

Deadline: November 30th, 2022
Word Count: 7-10,000 words
Specifics: Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1.5 line spaced.

I’m currently working on Embers & Ash and something new, The Chimera Coup.

Giveaways
Free Books of All Genres for April
Free Books of All Genres for April

Free Books of All Genres for April

storyoriginapp.com/bundles/9ce792e6-a064-11ec-8156-034d0f9bf4b0

Free Book SF & F
Free Book SF & F

Free Book SF & F

books.bookfunnel.com/sffmegapromo/kafblovzsx

No Fooling April Giveaway
No Fooling April Giveaway

 

No Fooling April Giveaway

books.bookfunnel.com/rtb-aprilgiveaway/nep8fizkq1

The Music
The Music

And another book swap with Jessica Lewis. This time it’s her story The Music. Get it here: storyoriginapp.com/giveaways/7b679af6-08f9-11ec-a5c7-9f431ddfa2ec?swapId=817f5c40-a4c0-11ec-a182-7f20841f5e9a

Rob’s Works in Progress
  • Rick Blaine (8,845)
  • CB (8,418)
  • VAL (571)
Upcoming Events
New Releases

This week we have Elaninae, the second in Jo Boone’s Combined Service series. Get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09X9KCSZS.

And of course, we’re still celebrating Aaron Rosenberg’s Deadly Fortune. Get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09X3Q44FR.

Tracked Items

Today’s Weight: 320.6

Updated Word Count: 135,836

Eldros Legacy Archives: 813 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

Founder in the Eldros Legacy series

Rob’s Update: Rock Chalk

Week 15 of 2022

Greetings all

Deadly Fortune
Deadly Fortune

Wow! Another great week highlighted by the release of Deadly Fortune, Aaron Rosenberg’s first Eldros Legacy novel.

This is a swashbuckling tale of pirates, murder, hidden secrets, and mystery. It’s set in the Areyat Islands, a corner of Shijuren that Aaron claimed for his own. You can get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09X3Q44FR.

But that’s not all!  We’re almost to the final stretch on The Door Into Winter. I spent the week doing my developmental edit pass. Tomorrow, I’ll receive the other devedit pass, this one by Leslie Bridgwater, and by Sunday, I’ll have all that inputted and sent to the copyeditor.

It comes out in a month and I’m so excited! Let me just say I cried at the end in the places I wanted people to cry.

Because of my focus on The Door Into Winter, I didn’t do a whole heck of a lot else except try and clear through a backlog of small projects.

I didn’t do a whole lot more this week except clear out a few small projects that have backed up here and there.

This means two things. One, the people on my mailing list will get another free story.

Two, Under a Midnight Clear, last year’s Nick Patara, PI freebie story for my mailing list, is now available for everyone in e-book only format on Amazon. You can get it here: amazon.com/gp/product/B09X6L8DJ8/.

By the way, those of you on my mailing list who’ve already read Under a Midnight Clear, I’d love it if you gave it or the first book in that series, Silent Knight, a review. Well, truth be told, we live on reviews so I always appreciate reviews, no matter which book.

Oh, yeah. One other thing. I certainly didn’t graduate from the University of Kansas, but I had a very fun year living on that campus and attending basketball games with far more consistency than attending classes.

That was not an easy game to watch, at least not for my blood pressure, but…

ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK, KU!

Ahem. Anyway, this championship will provide an extra treat at FantaSci 2023.

Tonight, I’m going to relax before a hard, but exciting weekend of editing!

What I’m Listening To

It’s a Sabaton kind of day, and right now it’s The Art of War, which is a fantastic album interspersing Sun Tzu quotes throughout. I love it.

Quote of the Week

KU has had 8 men’s basketball coaches. One of them has a losing record at the school. That would be James Naismith.

We’ll give him a pass, though, since he invented the game of basketball.

I am sure that no man can derive more pleasure from money or power than I do from seeing a pair of basketball goals in some out of the way place.
– James Naismith

Dudes In Hyperspace

Follow the Dudes In Hyperspace here:
bleav.com/shows/the-dudes-in-hyperspace-podcast/

The latest show includes an interview with Cam Rogers, a Bleav Network golf expert about the masters. .

Cool Stuff In Eldros Legacy

Get five free stories and signed up with the Eldros Legacy mailing list! Here There Be Giants is at: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/qabsr57lq3+.

The Door Into Winter by me is coming soon!

Currently available:

New Mythology Works in Progress

2023 FantaSci Short Story Contest open call.

The theme is Bonds of Valor, and you story must include deeds of valor centered around bonds between characters. This could be a romantic relationship, a buddy adventure, oaths to kings, or whatever you can come up with.

Deadline: November 30th, 2022
Word Count: 7-10,000 words
Specifics: Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1.5 line spaced.

I’m currently working on The Door Into Winter, my next novel.

Rob’s Works in Progress
  • Rick Blaine (8,845)
  • CB (8,418)
Upcoming Events
New Releases

Deadly Fortune by Aaron Rosenberg, the third book in the Eldros Legacy. It’s a fun swashbuckling yarn of pirates, murder, and intrigue. Get it here: www.amazon.com/dp/B09X3Q44FR.

Under a Midnight Clear, the second of my Nick Patara, PI short stories is live. This year’s case leads Saint Nick to Diamond Dave’s strip club. Get it here: www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09X6L8DJ8/.

And over on the SF side of things. P.A. Piatt just released his 5th! Abner Fortis ISMC book, Diplomacy. Get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09WTG77S7.

Tracked Items

Today’s Weight: 320.2

Updated Word Count: 134,245

Eldros Legacy Archives: 813 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

Founder in the Eldros Legacy series

Rob’s Update: A Huge Week

Week 14 of 2022

Greetings all

So much to talk about this week!

First, I had a great time at FantaSci. Here’s the full FantaSci AAR: robhowell.org/blog/?p=2653.

Keen Edge of Valor
Keen Edge of Valor

While there, we released Keen Edge of Valor. Thanks to all who supported the release and participated in its creation. It’s a great anthology and I’m proud of what we’ve done. Get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09W91TP24/.

I also got to make two announcements. First, the finalists for the FantaSci Short Story contest were C.M. DeMott, Nathan Balyeat, Jonathan Miller, and Chris Hepler. Chris Hepler, with his story “The Torturer of Camelot,” was this year’s winner. Here’s an interview with our winner: robhowell.org/blog/?p=2645.

Secondly, I announced the theme for next year’s Short Story Contest. 2023 will be Bonds of Valor, and you story must include deeds of valor centered around bonds between characters. This could be a romantic relationship, a buddy adventure, oaths to kings, or whatever you can come up with. Specifics on the submission guidelines are below in the New Mythology section.

Deadly Fortune
Deadly Fortune

And now we’re five days away from our next release, Deadly Fortune, by Aaron Rosenberg. This is the next Eldros Legacy novel. It’s a swashbuckling take of pirates, murder, and intrigue and a lot of fun.

Then there was Tuesday night, where I did a fun interview with Cursed Dragon Ship on Twitch.tv. You can find it here: twitch.tv/curseddragonship. Many thanks to Kelly Colby for hosting me. I had a great time.

Now for the fun vaguebook part. My sweetie went on a trip last night and there might be some cool fun changes to our life coming out of it.

What a week.

What I’m Listening To

The Eagle Against the Sun, a War in the Pacific documentary. I’m in a WW2 mood today for some reason, and it’s been exactly what I wanted.

Quote of the Week

A brilliant quote from Gordie Howe today.

“All hockey players are bilingual. They know English and profanity.”
– Gordie Howe

Dudes In Hyperspace

Follow the Dudes In Hyperspace here:
bleav.com/shows/the-dudes-in-hyperspace-podcast/

The latest show includes a review of Batman and some great podmail questions.

Cool Stuff In Eldros Legacy

Get five free stories and signed up with the Eldros Legacy mailing list! Here There Be Giants is at: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/qabsr57lq3+.

Deadly Fortune by Aaron Rosenberg is coming next Tuesday! It’s a fun swashbuckling tale of pirates, murder, and intrigue.

Currently available:

New Mythology Works in Progress

2023 FantaSci Short Story Contest open call.

The theme is Bonds of Valor, and you story must include deeds of valor centered around bonds between characters. This could be a romantic relationship, a buddy adventure, oaths to kings, or whatever you can come up with.

Deadline: November 30th, 2022
Word Count: 7-10,000 words
Specifics: Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1.5 line spaced.

I’m currently working on The Door Into Winter, my next novel.

Rob’s Works in Progress
  • Rick Blaine (8,845)
  • CB (8,418)
Upcoming Events
New Releases

So much going on in CKP at FantaSci. First, let’s go with Titans Rising, which is a book on the business of writing genre fiction in the 21st century. It includes stuff by Chris Kennedy, Kevin J. Anderson, Toni Weisskopf, and a bunch of other big names. You can get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09W8SV9QY.

Then we have Redacted Weapon, a new Four Horsemen Universe novel by Kevin Ikenson and Kevin Steverberry… errr… I mean, Kevin Ikenberry and Kevin Steverson. By the Kevins! That’s it, that’s what we’ll go with. Anyway, it’s another story about the Peacemakers and you can get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09W8LYXNJ.

And finally, there’s Keen Edge of Valor, the third anthology in the Libri Valoris, the Books of Valor. You can get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09W91TP24/.

Tracked Items

Today’s Weight: 326.3

Updated Word Count: 129,772

Eldros Legacy Archives: 813 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

Founder in the Eldros Legacy series

Interview: Aaron Rosenberg

I’ve been saving this one for a while. You see, not only is Aaron Rosenberg in Keen Edge of Valor (which you can get here: amazon.com/dp/B09W91TP24/), he’s in the Eldros Legacy.

In fact, he’s got his first Eldros Legacy novel, Deadly Fortune, coming out next Tuesday. It’s a swashbuckling tale of pirates, mystery, and murder and you’re gonna love it.

And he’s pretty awesome too.

Aaron Rosenberg

  1. Why are you here? This includes influences, favorite creators, steps along the way, and dreams down the road.
Aaron Rosenberg
Aaron Rosenberg

Ha, why are any of us here? I got started writing when I was a kid, and got hooked when I won my school writing fair in third grade (beating out the fourth-graders, I might add). I pursued writing in college—I have a BA in Creative Writing and a Masters in English Lit—and my friends and I put out our first roleplaying game when I was in grad school, around the same time I started having stories and poems in small literary magazines.

Things snowballed from there—I was mostly doing RPGs for several years, then did short stories for various game-based anthologies, then tie-in novels, then educational books and children’s books, then original novels and short stories.

I’m a huge Mark Twain and Jane Austen fan, both of them were brilliant at characterization, setting, and narrative. For the more recent writers, I favor Roger Zelazny, Tim Powers, F. Paul Wilson, David and Leigh Eddings, Raymond Feist, Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, and Richard Kadrey.

I write pretty much everything, and I like to keep things varied, so I’ll do epic fantasy and then switch to mystery and then SF and so on.

The two areas I haven’t cracked yet and would love to do someday are film/TV and comic books—I’ve come close on the latter a few times, but never had one come to completion. But mainly I just love to tell stories that people enjoy.

  1. Describe your great Lab of Creation? This includes where you work, what do you listen to (if anything), things you have to have in your work environment, and stuff you’ve tried that haven’t worked.

I write mostly at home, particularly in the evenings (I have a full-time job). The corner of our basement family room is my office space, partially walled off by a set of bookcases in front of the desk and a redwood slab along the side.

Bones at Rest
Bones at Rest

When lockdown started, though, I wound up having to do my job from there, which meant by 5pm each day I was ready to be well away from the basement! So I switched to writing on my laptop in the living room—I sit on the couch right by the window. Now that my day job is mostly back in the office I’m alternating writing up there and back at my desk again.

I don’t listen to music unless there’s too much noise around for me to concentrate otherwise. If I do, it’s strictly instrumental, lots of soundtracks and strings, so I don’t have to worry about the lyrics distracting me.

I don’t really need much to write, just a comfortable chair, my computer or laptop, and my headphones if it’s loud. I’ve written in hotel rooms plenty of times, in airports, on trains, and even at my table at conventions. That last one’s a little tough for maintaining momentum, though, since I’ll pause whenever someone stops by.

  1. What are your superpowers? This includes things you like your creations, specific techniques you do well, and some favorite successes.

I’m big on worldbuilding, probably because so much of my early work was in creating RPGs. I need to know that a world makes sense—it doesn’t matter that the reader only sees the tip of the iceberg, I have to know the rest of it.

That’s especially true with magic—I’ve designed magic systems before, and for me it’s really important that they are consistent, and that there is an appropriate cost.

I’ve gotten into the habit, over the years, of building both a cast list and a glossary for my books—I’ll have those two documents open while I write, along with the manuscript itself and my notes. That way I can keep track of who everyone is, what they look like, their key traits, and also any unique words, place names, etc.

One of the things I’m good at, because I write very fast and can write almost anything, is pinch-hitting. I’ve been dropped into projects last-minute to salvage them when something has changed and they need extra help. It’s a fun challenge, getting up to speed on something quickly, finding the gaps and weak spots, and figuring out how to fill them. One of my first big RPG projects was like that, and I’ve done several novels and children’s books because an editor needed someone fast and good and knew I could deliver.

  1. What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you? This includes challenges you’ve faced that frustrated you, learning experiences, techniques for overcoming creative challenges, things you’d have done differently, and advice for new writers.
Focal Point
Focal Point

One of the biggest problems with doing tie-in work is that you’re at the mercy of the IP holder. They could decide to change something last-minute, and you don’t get to argue, you just have to adjust your work to match. I’ve had that happen more than once—it can be an interesting challenge, but it’s also really frustrating, especially if happens late in the process (like when you’ve already finished a book and they suddenly change key details).

We’ve all had failures. I wrote a book once—or started to—with a friend, and we thought it was going to combine the best of both our strengths but wound up being the worst of both our flaws instead. That was quite the learning experience!

And not just on my writing strengths and weaknesses but also on working with others. I also made a huge mistake, early on in my career, by biting off more than I could chew and not owning up to it. Now I’m very conscientious about letting my editor know if I have any issues with a project, as soon as an issue occurs.

That’s one thing I always try to tell beginning writers. There’s nothing wrong with turning down a project, and no one will ever think less of you for saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t think I can do that in the time you need.” What they will hold against you is taking the project and then blowing the deadline, turning in substandard work, etc.

If I could tell my younger self anything about writing? Huh. Probably “Stick with it, tell your editor immediately if you’re going to miss a deadline, and never put off revisions.”

My Kryptonite, though? That’s easy—just ask me to write something but tell me “it can be about whatever you want” and “turn it in whenever you like.” I’ll be paralyzed! Give me a narrow, specific topic and a tight deadline, I’m happy as a clam—leave both wide open and I’m blinded by the possibilities!

Oh, I don’t get writer’s block, though. I don’t really have time for it. I just push through, write that section the best I can, and if I have to go back and toss those pages and rewrite them, so be it—I often realize “d’oh, that’s what needed to happen there!” the next day, but I can’t see that unless I write through it the wrong way first.

Lightning Round
  • Actor/Actress You’d Like to Play Any Character You’ve Created
    Jack Black as DuckBob Spinowitz—he’s the lead character in my SF comedy series, a regular Joe who gets abducted by aliens and comes back with the head of a duck
  • Favorite Muppet?
    Rowlf
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?
    The Weepies
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall?
    Fall, definitely
  • Favorite Superhero?
    Still gotta say Spidey
  • Best Game Ever?
    D&D, of course. 3 or 3.5.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show?
    The Six Million Dollar Man!
  • Do You Have Pets? (provide pictures if you want)
    Yep, one cat, Tuppence.

    Tuppence
    Tuppence
  • Favorite Weird Color?
    I don’t know about weird, but cobalt blue
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received?
    A Bag of Holding, Con-Survival Edition, from ThinkGeek. I use it whenever I travel, and it’s the perfect size to carry my laptop and pretty much everything I need for the day.
  • Favorite Sports Team?
    The New Orleans Saints!
  • What Cartoon Character Are You?
    Rikki-Tikki-Tavi
  • Your Wrestler Name?
    The Gryphon Rose
  • Your Signature Wrestling Move?
    Pinning people on their stomachs and pounding on their backs like I’m typing
  • What Do You Secretly Plot?
    My next book, obviously!
  • How Will You Conquer the World?
    Through my stories. Or my snark.
  • Best Thing From the 60s/70s/80s/90s? (pick your preferred decade)
    Saturday morning cartoons in the 70s
  • Favorite Historical Period?
    Edo period Japan
  • Person In History (Living or Dead) You Want To Hang Out With?
    Mark Twain
  • Steak Temperature?
    Medium to medium-rare
  • Favorite Chip Dip?
    Fresh guacamole
  • Beverage(s) of Choice?
    Unsweetened iced tea—unless I’m down South, in which case it’s sweet tea all the way!
  • What Actor or Actress Should Portray You in Your Biopic?
    Matthew Broderick

What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round?
What can I get you at the bar? [For me, Gin & Tonic or Rum & Coke)

Editor’s Note: I also enjoy gin & tonics. 53 years malaria free! Along with IPAs, of course.

What question(s) would you like to ask me?

If there’s one book you could go back and time and make yours, what would it be?

Rob’s Answer: I’m not entirely sure how to take this question. I mean, if we’re talking books I’d like to re-write or correct something, I’ve got a bunch of those. Some that come to mind are Cornwell’s Last Kingdom books. As a scholar of that exact time period, there are things in there that make my teeth itch. Also, there are a couple of authors who are fantastic in the first 80% of their book, but routinely don’t have that epic ending their story deserves. I like epic endings and I cannot lie.

And I really wish I could have written the Song of Ice and Fire. One, it’d be done. Two, his worldbuilding is fantastic, but his prose gets bloated and the pacing of the story struggles. I would also have split it into multiple series threads so you could keep track of things better.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

I’ve got a website, gryphonrose.com, but I’m sometimes bad about updating it.

My Wikipedia page is usually more current: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_S._Rosenberg

So is my Amazon Authors page: https://www.amazon.com/Aaron-Rosenberg/e/B001JRXM5S.

I’m pretty good at posting about my current projects on Facebook (facebook.com/gryphonrose) and on Twitter (@gryphonrose), and you can find a lot of my books at Crazy 8 Press (https://www.crazy8press.com/  ), Crossroad Press (https://crossroadpress.com/ ), Falstaff Books (http://falstaffbooks.com/ ), and of course New Mythology Press (https://chriskennedypublishing.com/new-mythology-press/ ).

As far as recent projects, I’ve had two new books already out this year, each part of an ongoing series. Focal Point is an occult conspiracy thriller set in Eastern Europe, part of the O.C.L.T. series from Crossroad Press—think The X-Files meets Mission: Impossible with some Supernatural thrown in.

Bones at Rest is the fourth in my five-book Anime-esque epic fantasy series the Relicant Chronicles from Falstaff Books—basically Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets Game of Thrones.

And where can we find you?

I’m going to be at Origins Game Fair in early June, Shore Leave in mid-July, and the GenCon Writers Symposium in early August.

Do you have a creator biography?

Aaron Rosenberg is the author of the best-selling DuckBob SF comedy series, the Relicant Chronicles epic fantasy series, the Dread Remora space-opera series, and, with David Niall Wilson, the O.C.L.T. occult thriller series. His tie-in work contains novels for Star Trek, Warhammer, World of WarCraft, Stargate: Atlantis, Shadowrun, and Eureka. He has written children’s books (including the award-winning Bandslam: The Junior Novel and the #1 best-selling 42: The Jackie Robinson Story), educational books, and roleplaying games (including the Origins Award-winning Gamemastering Secrets). Aaron lives in New York. You can follow him online at gryphonrose.com, at facebook.com/gryphonrose, and on Twitter @gryphonrose.

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?

What I’m working on next? That’d be a short story for a pulp anthology, followed by Book Five in the Relicant Chronicles, a Sherlock Holmes novella, and a drawing-room pirate romance-adventure novel. I’m sure other projects will come up, though. J

* * * * *

We are so honored to have Aaron writing at New Mythology Press, and after this interview, I think you can see why. And if that’s not enough, check out his writing.

Interview: Chris Hepler

This past weekend, I had the great pleasure of announcing our winner of FantaSci’s 2022 Short Story Contest, Chris Hepler.

He won with “The Torturer of Camelot,” a story that was so strong it went straight to the top of my list from the moment I read it. It’s not necessarily the happiest of endings, but it is very powerful.

This was, of course, published in Keen Edge of Valor, which was released Friday. You can get Chris’s story, and a bunch of other great ones, here: amazon.com/dp/B09W91TP24/

Here’s an interview with Chris, so you can get to know this amazing writer.

Chris Hepler

  1. Why are you here? This includes influences, favorite creators, steps along the way, and dreams down the road.

I imprinted on role-playing games at a young age. I’ve probably read more D&D products than I have novels. In high school I branched out into Shadowrun and Vampire and rarely looked back. I ended up reading a lot of RPG fiction that wasn’t very good, but every now and then there’d be something that’d fascinate me – a bit of actual near-future tech creeping into a Nigel Findley novel, or the miniature stories in Legend of the Five Rings sourcebooks.

Then my wife (who was my co-writer for years and years) and I left RPGs behind for a while to try screenwriting, and we watched a crapton of television and analyzed the AFI’s top 100 films to really nail down structure and cinematic dialogue. It was only once I was at Bioware that I was among writers who really drilled down into characterization, voice, and narrative in a systematic way. Other than my wife Jennifer, Bioware writers Daniel Erickson and Chris L’Etoile come to mind as the ones who really changed how I go about writing.

I have an abiding love of hair metal and musical theater. The two rarely go together, one being predominately the music of straight white males from the 80s (makeup or no) and the theater having a wide range of diverse voices.

In graphic novels, I thought the initial runs on The Sandman and Preacher stood out as unique voices that were at times funny, poignant, or insightful, dealing with fantasy but also the greater questions like the problem of evil and the stark fact that even if humans aren’t alone in the universe, we apparently can’t rely on whatever higher beings there are to bail us out.

When I was in high school, I had an English assignment one weekend that I wasn’t all that enthused about. Monday rolled around and I had done a cursory job on the assignment, but I’d also written 25 pages of Shadowrun fan fiction. I thought that had to count for something.

Of course, it didn’t.

A year or two later, and I had a few more stories of similar size ready to go, and I was chatting up a fellow theater geek who had written her own 25-page story. I was most impressed, until I realized hers was double-spaced and mine single-spaced. It was then that I figured someday I’d be writing novels. (It took me much more time to figure out that more words were not necessarily better.)

I’m interested in 1) what exists in the world now, 2) what could exist, and 3) what people thought existed but never did. The first informs the other two, and the older I get, the more I find myself writing about it.

But I’ll always love science fiction and fantasy for what they can say as metaphors for the human condition. Science fiction asks “what would the impact be if we made a change here?” Fantasy asks “what would it be like if the rules were different?” I suppose this is why my vampire novel feels more like science fiction rather than urban fantasy: the change to the world is relatively small, but even that is extremely potent.

  1. Describe your great Lab of Creation? This includes where you work, what do you listen to (if anything), things you have to have in your work environment, and stuff you’ve tried that haven’t worked.

I am far too distractible to work in a public place like a coffee shop, though in recent years I’ve been able to do some work even with my son playing video games in the same room.

But there are tasks that require you to lose yourself in the morass of notes you’ve made and come up with lines of final-draft quality, so I do some of my best work at night while everyone else is asleep. The exception to this is plotting – I find it often needs to be run by another human being to see if it passes the “that’s stupid” test.

I don’t listen to music, really, not while working. Music with lyrics distracts me. I’ve used instrumental music before, but these days when I work, I generally work in silence.

I chew sugarless gum and drink black tea to stay awake. I’m a night person by nature, so it is often a struggle to stay awake in the morning hours.

Caffeine by itself will not keep me awake during the day. The gum is the way to go. The tea is there for hydration. I used to try soda, but I hate the taste of diet soda and a friend told me that the HFCS in the non-diet kind is like injecting fat directly into your veins. I still indulge, but not daily, and not just to wake up.

  1. What are your superpowers? This includes things you like your creations, specific techniques you do well, and some favorite successes.

I really like asking the question “Okay, if all these fantastical things exist, how would things really shake out?”

You can mine an immense amount of details out of that one question. That’s how I ended up with Emily Wong liveblogging the apocalypse in Mass Effect 3, the reductionist anti-vampire chants on the National Mall in Civil Blood, and the horror of the VITAS plague in Shadowrun.

I create a lot of fake news. It’s such a big part of modern life that it helps the fantastical parts go down more easily. Humans are terrible at keeping secrets even when they’re motivated to.

Video is going to be around in some form in the future, and it’s ubiquitous now, so if someone got hold of a vampire that sparkles, it would take about a hot second before that crap would be all over the cable channels and that vampire would end up hounded by fans and soldiers and scientists.

Civil Blood is the straight-faced Big Dramatic Book that I meant to write for 11 years or more. In the end, I finally buckled down and finished it rather than letting it sit on my hard drive for eternity. So that was an enormous weight off my mind. It was me showing what I could do with no co-author input, though I leveraged every lawyer, doctor, and beta reader friend I had to make sure its quality was what I wanted.

On the other end of the spectrum was a one-off humorous short story I wrote for an anthology called Unidentified Funny Objects, volume 8. It doesn’t sound like much, but the series has had entries by Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, and of course regular appearances by Esther Friesner, whom I consider the gold standard of fantasy short story humor because she’s written so freaking much of it.

And not only did I get into the anthology, but my story is the first one in the book. I took the idea of “superhero registration” from such Big Dramatic Pieces like Captain America: Civil War and spoofed it. I mean, really, superhero registration is going to be like the DMV, except the waiting room is going to be goofier than that cantina in Star Wars. And I figured they’d have some kind of place to test the limits of your superpowers, which for a regenerating hero, would be agonizingly, humorously painful.

  1. What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you? This includes challenges you’ve faced that frustrated you, learning experiences, techniques for overcoming creative challenges, things you’d have done differently, and advice for new writers.

I think the most annoying thing about writing is that it doesn’t get easier. Even if you’ve got a list of accomplishments, if your work isn’t scintillating on the page, no one is going to accept it. And only rarely will someone know what’s wrong with it. Most of the time, how to turn that “no” into a “yes” is a guess.

The creative failure that taught me something which comes to mind was when I was writing a Star Wars: The Old Republic quest on Balmorra and was handed an outline that said “you meet a wounded Sith unable to destroy the Republic’s battle droid factory and you go do the job for him.”

I tried a first draft and it sucked. That’s when the lead writer, Daniel Erickson, asked me to think about the quest giver’s character more.

“What’s he like?” Daniel asked.

I said, “Uh, okay, he’s wounded and wants you to finish what he started.”

“Wounded,” he said, “is not a character trait. Anybody can be wounded. It’s how you react to a situation that makes you into a character.”

So I thought about it and made the guy the poster boy for Sith determination. He’s got his ankle blown off, but he’s bent on never giving up, and he tells the player all about his plan to pick off one droid at a time, circle back, hide away, and continue this guerilla campaign he’s worked out in his head to whittle down like forty droids over the course of the next two days before he runs out of food or infection sets in.

And the player’s natural response is “Dude, just let me do it, I still have both ankles.” Which neatly solved the problem of winning the player’s sympathy and characterizing the quest giver with a unique spin at the same time.

My co-writer at Seasun had the opinion that writer’s block was a sign, not a state. It was telling you that you either A) don’t know enough about your characters, or B) don’t know enough about the world they inhabit. Because if you are really in tune with what your characters’ problems are, you will be ready to tell the audience all about them. I’ve found that sitting down and just making shit up about the world and about the characters keeps me busy until I’m ready to go back to the problem at hand.

The big mistake I’d warn writers about is that I’ve been burned a few times by collaborating. Making most anything is a team effort, and often when you become part of a team that you click with and they seem competent, you assume that things will turn out all right. But as the Quality Assurance teams in video games know, anything that has not been tested must be assumed to be broken.

I edited an indie paper-and-pencil roleplaying game in a marathon session, only to have the creator take the final draft to the printer. This was back in the days of physical disks, which he handed over to the printer… with more than one file on the disk. Murphy’s Law being what it was, the printer didn’t use the most recent file, so the first printing of the game was filled with all the errors I had spent three days correcting. Just the sort of thing you want your name on, right?

If you’re working on something inspired by the public domain, but that nobody else has done yet, do it fast. I wrote a screenplay about Achilles that I poured my heart and soul into, but nobody wanted to touch it because Troy beat me to production by a month or two.

I used a Shakespearian phrase from Romeo and Juliet for a vampire novel, and lo and behold, a month after I published, there was another vampire novel with the same title competing in the search engine results. So, if you have an idea, don’t faff around with it, because there can really be such a thing as being too late to press.

Lightning Round
  • Actor/Actress You’d Like to Play Any Character You’ve Created

The image of Infinity DeStard in my head is pretty close to Krysten Ritter on Jessica Jones. She was a very convincing survivor with pragmatic morals and a “screw-it-the-plan-is-now-shot” attitude.

  • Favorite Muppet?

Statler and Waldorf. Some of their lines are simplistic, but they also get some of the best.

(“Help me out here.” “Okay, which way did you come in?”)

  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?

The band Apotheosis, who did a techno version of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana in the 1990s but promptly got sued for it.

  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall?

I like winter, even when I lived in Alberta and it was nine months long.

  • Favorite Superhero?

I’ve made a few, but it’s kind of gauche to self-promote, so I’ll say Spider-Man. Why? Because he’s small-scale (“friendly neighborhood”) and is a total amateur, a kid trying to do the right thing. By sheer coincidence, his superpowers/inventions are specifically suited to tying up large numbers of enemies (without even punching them half the time) and leaving them for the cops. The guy was made to be a hero. And it’s really hard to make a character that’s like him that isn’t him exactly. Batman, for example, is a costumed vigilante with some toys, which describes a lot of superheroes – Nite Owl and Ozymandias from Watchmen, the Phantom, Black Widow, they’re all sort of in that same pool of natural heroes with training and a little tech. There’s shrinking guys and rubber guys and lots of flying tough super strong guys. But when you make a wall-crawling web-slinger, it’s 100% certain who the original one is.

  • Best Game Ever?

There’s only one game in which I can make a time-manipulating wolf-headed pirate that summons ninjas and no one bats an eye. That’s City of Heroes/City of Villains. It’s back from the dead and completely fan-run now, and they eliminated all the inconveniences of subscription MMOs. It used to be that the character creator was better than the game, but over the years, the game consistently improved in gameplay, story quality, player choice, quality of life, and player-created content. I made it my mission to see every new piece of content when I started replaying. Out of 1581 available badge achievements, I have 1580 and the last one is associated with a known bug. Fortunately for my writing career, I’m taking a break from it for a little while.

  • Favorite 1970s TV show?

Saturday Night Live. I saw most of its reruns on Nick at Nite years later, and from the absurd commercial parodies to the Weekend Update, it filled me in on a time where I was too young to pay attention to politics and pop culture… and it did it with a smile.

  • Do You Have Pets? (provide pictures if you want)

Yes, a corn snake, a skinny ginger cat, and a tubby white cat. I’m pretty sure if we left them all alone for a week, we would come back and there would only be the tubby white cat.

  • Favorite Weird Color?

Like octarine or something? I’ll go with the bluish-lavender shade of B-Ko’s hair in Project A-Ko.

  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received?

When my daughter was five or so, she gave me a piece of art she’d made in school. It was black construction paper with planets glued to it. She said she knew Daddy worked on Mass Effect and made Galaxy Maps. So she made her own, and I put it on my desk at work.

  • Favorite Sports Team?

I’m not into most local sports teams, but I try to catch the Olympics when they’re on. Of those teams, I think the Jamaican bobsleigh team from 1988 had the most heart and even made snotty little-kid Chris root for them.

  • What Cartoon Character Are You?

Probably Candace from Phineas and Ferb. I was a snitch as a kid and lousy at impressing the objects of my affection.

  • Your Wrestler Name?

Hep C. Or possibly that’s my hip-hop name.

  • Your Signature Wrestling Move?

The leg guillotine. You get the opponent bent over, wrap one leg around their neck, then drop all the way to the mat, crushing their neck and battering their head in the fall. That’s what I thought would be cool when I was 12. I’m not sure it’d be safe to perform in practice, since neck trauma can lead to paralysis if you do it wrong.

  • What Do You Secretly Plot?

My next novel?

  • How Will You Conquer the World?

I doubt I can, but while I was on the CIA show The Agency I developed a reasonable plan to take over a nuclear reactor and make it go critical. Didn’t really want to put it on the air, though.

  • Best Thing From the 60s/70s/80s/90s? (pick your preferred decade)

The best thing from the ‘80s was the end of the Cold War. There was a feeling of hope and reconciliation. Rock bands played at the fall of the Berlin Wall. Some political theorists questioned if we were “at the end of history.” Yeah… not so much.

  • Favorite Historical Period?

Ancient Greece. They figured out a lot given the crappy tools and brutal societies they had to work with.

  • Person In History (Living or Dead) You Want To Hang Out With?

Assuming I could get a translator, a librarian from the Library of Alexandria. They would be able to talk about so many lost works.

  • Steak Temperature?

Medium well. I used to be into medium rare, but it just makes it rubbery. Texture matters to me.

  • Favorite Chip Dip?

Mild red salsa.

  • Beverage(s) of Choice?

Black tea or Dr. Pepper. I like my cough syrup with sugar, thanks.

  • What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round?

Best time you displayed valor in your own life, of course! I once saved a kid in a pool who couldn’t swim and was going under. His dad also noticed, so he might have been okay even without me, but I was a little faster.

What question(s) would you like to ask me?

Best time YOU displayed valor!

Agh. Good question. Maybe it would be the time I was driving in snow and ice and went off the road but brought it back again. The passenger was doing play-by-play because he was on the phone with his sweetie.

At least, he thought he was. The phone call dropped in the middle of me bringing it back out of the ditch.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

  • Add cool upcoming projects.
    • My day job is working on a game for Mattel163, the mobile games division of the toy company. I can’t talk about my project just yet, though.
    • I am in the outline stage of Civil Blood’s sequel, but it will be years before I finish the book.
    • I am trying to sell several short stories… maybe one will land soon.

And where can we find you?

I have not convention plans any time soon.

Do you have a creator biography?

Chris Hepler got his start writing roleplaying games when he was in college, working for such titles as Shadowrun, Earthdawn, and Legend of the Five Rings before pursuing screenwriting. After a stint on CBS Television’s drama The Agency and a Top Cow comic called M.I.T.H., he began work for the Bioware Corp. on such video games as Star Wars: The Old Republic and the Mass Effect trilogy.

There, he cemented his position as “that writer who actually cares about the science,” creating much of Mass Effect’s Codex, Galaxy Map, and Daily News. His launch-day Twitter event for Mass Effect 3, “Emily Wong Reports Live from UCLA,” made #solcomms the top-trending worldwide hashtag of the day, and yes, that means you can blame him for killing off several beloved characters.

Today, Chris works for various game companies, most recently for Mattel’s video game division, Mattel163. He enjoys dragon boating, herpetology, and as many martial arts as he can get his hands on. He lives in the U.S. with his wife, Jennifer Brandes Hepler, and their two loud children.

* * * * *

Wow, what an amazing collection of experiences. No wonder he gave us a great story!

Rob’s Ramblings: FantaSci 2022 AAR

Greetings all

I’m home after a great time at FantaSci. This con is in the Research Triangle in North Carolina, so it’s a bit of a hike from Kansas City, but it’s well worth it. To put it this way, I have already bought my pass for 2023.

I got to the hotel on Thursday afternoon, and began the hanging out almost immediately. The best part of cons isn’t really the con, though all of it is necessary for my business, it’s the people.

The first afternoon at cons is therefore a great time of re-connecting. Then, Thursday evening we went to Trali Irish Pub for a group dinner. Then, there was drinking at the bar.

I got to bed far too late.

Friday, I had some errands to run for the CKP Party on Saturday night, then I was back for three straight panels.

Keen Edge of Valor
Keen Edge of Valor

First, we had the release panel for Keen Edge of Valor. In this, we get as many authors who are in the anthology to come to the panel and talk about their story. It’s fun to share all the cool stuff in an anthology, and we had a great time because it’s a great anthology.

Get it here, by the way: amazon.com/dp/B09W91TP24/

Then we had a panel on Killing People and Breaking Stuff, including Mark Wandrey as moderator, Joshua Palmatier, Monalisa Foster, and William Joseph Roberts. This went over how much combat and violence to put in a story. The basic answer is that each of us have to develop a style that works with whatever genre we’re writing in.

Last on Friday night was perhaps my favorite panel on the week, talking about making books into movies. Carolyn Kay did a great job as moderator. Chaz Kemp, Cathy DeMott, and I went over a wide variety of topics and it was a hoot.

Then on Saturday we started with the Chris Kennedy Publishing Year Ahead panel. TL:DR is that there’s a bunch of great stuff coming. For the long version, go to chriskennedypublishing.com.

I had a bit of a break then before going into a panel on podcasting. There weren’t many people in the hall, but that became a good thing as Ian J. Malone sort of turned it into a roundtable. It was a blast, especially because Nicole Givens Kurtz is a hoot, and very, very sharp. Plus there was Kevin Steverson. Really good panel.

Immediately after, we had a great panel on overcoming Writer’s Block with Mark Stallings and Mark Jack Stoumbos. There are tools we can use, but one thing I want to emphasize is that we need to differentiate between those times when writer’s block has to do with the story and times when it has to do with fatigue, frustration, depression, and other things with the writer.

Then I had another panel on alternate history. I didn’t prepare for this as well as I should as moderator because I didn’t find out about it until Saturday afternoon. This is all on me because it was in the program, I just didn’t notice it.

Anyway, I had a Chuck Gannon and Dave Butler on the panel, along with Jason Cordova and Chris Kennedy, so I didn’t have to do much. They just got to riffing on stuff back and forth. At least I’m smart enough to sit back and let them go.

That was my last panel of the day, but then there was a huge evening of socializing. The Four Horsemen Dining Out that FantaSci hosts is unique, as far as I know, and an amazing experience.

Side note: Nick Steverson started the Dining Out off with a bang.

Anyway, then we had the CKP party, which went well as far as I could tell. All I  know is I spent Saturday night chatting and schmoozing until late in the night.

This last part was an issue, because on Sunday morning at 9am I hosted the New Mythology Press year ahead panel. I was really impressed with how many we got to come out on Sunday morning, because I for one wouldn’t have minded sleeping in.

Deadly Fortune
Deadly Fortune

The big announcement was the cover reveal for Deadly Fortune by Aaron Rosenberg. This is a swashbuckling private eye novel with swords and intrigue and pirates.

Then there was time to hang out until Closing Ceremonies. I got to announce the winners of the FantaSci Short Story Contest.

The four finalists were C.M. DeMott, Nathan Balyeat, Chris Hepler, and Jonathan Miller. The winner was Chris Hepler, with his story “The Torturer of Camelot.” A great story that was at the top of my list from the start.

I also announced next year’s anthology theme. It will be entitled Bonds of Valor and while the primary theme of deeds of valor remains unchanged, we’re also adding a subtheme of bonds between characters.

This includes characters in a romantic relationship, buddy adventures, oaths sworn to others, and any other bond between characters.

The submission details are:
Deadline: November 30th, 2022
Word Count: 7-10,000 words
Specifics: Times New Roman, 12 point, and 1.5 line spacing.

Get writing!

As for me, I’m going to look forward to FantaSci 2023. Tickets are available here: fantasci.rocks/

See you there!

 

Opinions and fiction of person misplaced in time.

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