All posts by Rob Howell

RU: Best Damn Chicken In The State

Week 33 of 2018

The week after Pennsic is always one of recovery. Stuff has to be cleaned, maintained, and put back into its proper place. I have to recover as well.

All the while dealing with cats that missed us.

Right now, Thorn is laying on my left wrist, making it hard to reach the “T” key. But she’s a happy, purry kitty so I’m not moving her.

My mom is also visiting this week, so there was a hurried arranging and straightening up. Impetus for getting more things from the move into their proper place. We’ve still got lots to do, but the house is perfectly livable right now.

The sad news, of course, is the passing of Aretha Franklin. The Blues Brothers has been one of my favorite movies, and that’s how I remember her most, but every once in a while I’ll go down the YouTube rabbit hole following her. What a voice.

On the writing side, I’ve been fighting to get my brain in gear. I’ve thrown a few words on the page, but not yet gotten back into the groove I was in at Pennsic. It’s coming back though. I can tell it is when a number of different ideas start popping through my head.

I also have a new idea for my blog that I will unveil next Wednesday. I hope to make it a standard weekly post if I can keep up. It’ll help me be a better writer, probably give me a bunch of ideas, and be fun and interesting.

For now, I’m going to play around with a story idea.

Current Playlist Song

“Rasputin” by Turisas. It’s a silly song, but fun. And Turisas kicks it up several notches. They are a great Finnish folk metal band. I got to see them at the Riot Room here in KC, a tiny but fun venue. “Rasputin” live was really fun.

As a side note, if you haven’t noticed, I love folk metal. If you’ve found a cool folk metal band, let me know. I’m always looking for more.

Quote of the Week

“Don’t you “Don’t get riled, sugar” me!”
– Aretha Franklin as Mrs. Murphy, The Blues Brothers

News and Works in Progress

  • CB (6,526)
  • AFS (2,681)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight was on the amazing Kacey Ezell. You can find her interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1296 and you can find her at http://www.kaceyezell.net/.

Today’s Weight: 387.6

A note about my weight. I am essentially at the same weight I was when I started the year. With all the travel and upheaval in my life so far in 2018, I call this a win. Hopefully, I will drop into the 360s by the end of the year, but thus far I’ve maintained despite challenges.

Updated Word Count: 173,506

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen 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

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

Interview: Kacey Ezell

Greetings all

This week’s interview is with the amazing Kacey Ezell. She is, I can say without doubt, the first person I’ve interviewed who has over 2500 hours flying Hueys and Mi-17s.

She’s also one of my favorite writers right now. I really enjoy her Minds of Men alternate history and am waiting for the next one in that series. She’s also one of the writers in the Four Horsemen Universe, collaborating with Marisa Wolf to write Assassin and show us all the might of the Depik.

Interview: Kacey Ezell

What is your quest?

To crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and hear the lamentations of their women. (I’m sure I’m not the first to say that!) For real, though, I just want to tell good stories that I’d like to read. And I want to be a dragonrider. For Science. (Rob’s Note: SCIENCE!!!!)

What is your favorite color?

Blue. I like emotional gut-punch moments in my writing. Specifically, I always try to have a moment or moments where I put the reader in the mind of the character and make the character’s emotions resonate within the reader. If I can make you cry, or laugh, or grieve, or rage, or exult, then I’ve done my job.

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?

I always feel like I’m never writing enough, especially when it gets busy with the day job. I get frustrated when I fly long days and then don’t have the energy to do more than drag myself into the shower and then into bed. My discipline demands that I at least try to write something every day, but a recent string of 12-hour days has shown me that sometimes, when I’m drained, I’m drained. So I’ll settle for writing 100 words that day and call it a win.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

In writing, my personal Holy Hand Grenade is what I’ve described above. I’m always proud when I can make the reader feel something. In life/marketing, I think my personal Holy Hand Grenade is my ability to connect with people and make friends quickly and easily. I love getting to know new people, and that’s been incredibly helpful in my career!

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Animal
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Creamy
  • Favorite Sports Team? Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Cake or Pie? Apple Pie / Guinness Cake (it cooks out! I promise!)
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Spicy salsa heavy on the cilantro
  • Wet or Dry? wet
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Leo
  • Whisky or Whiskey? I’m Mormon, don’t care.
  • Favorite Superhero? Wonder Woman
  • Steak Temperature? Medium Rare
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Um, I’m too young for that. 😉
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Summer
  • Favorite Pet? I can’t choose. I love them both. 😊
  • Best Game Ever? Shadowrun
  • Coffee or Tea? Again, Mormon. I’ll take Sugar Free Red Bull, please
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Again, por que no los dos?

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

My Answer: Hmmm, in my younger days I could walk into any neighborhood bar in any country and become Norm before the night was over.

I suppose now my greatest superpower is drinking the bitterest beer. I’ve had brewers try to out-bitter me. I welcome their attempts to tilt at this windmill, as it means free beer for me.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

Dragon Con 2018, FantaSci and LibertyCon 2019 for sure. Maybe some others along the way if I can talk my husband into it.

Do you have a creator biography?

Kacey Ezell was born in South Dakota in 1977. Her parents joined the US Air Force in 1984, and she grew up around the world on various military bases. When she was seven, her mother gave her a copy of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragondrums, and shortly thereafter, Kacey decided that she wanted to be a dragonrider when she grew up. In 1999, she followed her parents into the “family business” and graduated from the United States Air Force Academy before going to pilot training. As dragons were in short supply at the time, she reasoned that flying aircraft was the next best thing. She earned her wings in 2001, and has over 2500 hours in the UH-1N and Mi-17 helicopters.

From the time she was a small child, Kacey made up stories to tell to her friends and family. In 2009, while deployed to Iraq, she wrote the military-themed supernatural story “Light”, which was accepted for publication in the Baen Books anthology Citizens. She was asked to consult on John Ringo’s 2015 novel Strands of Sorrow, and wrote the cover story for the Black Tide Rising anthology set in Ringo’s zombie apocalypse universe. That story, “Not in Vain” was selected for inclusion in the “Year’s Best Military SF and Adventure Fiction” anthology produced by Baen Books.

In addition, she’s written a story for each of the bestselling Four Horsemen Universe anthologies, and her story “Family Over Blood” is included in the national bestseller “Forged In Blood” set in Michael Z. Williamson’s Freehold Universe.

She and Christopher L. Smith are currently collaborating with John Ringo on a new post-apocalyptic steampunk trilogy from Baen, and her first solo novel, “Minds of Men” was released by Theogony Press on 10 November 2017. She returned to the Four Horseman Universe to collaborate with Marisa Wolf on “Assassin”, a novel about an alien race of felinoid killers-for-hire. “Assassin” is available now from Seventh Seal Press.

Kacey writes science fiction, fantasy, horror, noir, romance… etc. fiction. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and two cats.
Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not? You should have asked me about my plans for world domination, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you about them. You’ll just have to find out.

And if you are interested in a FREE short story in my Psyche of War universe, you can absolutely have one by simply signing up for my mailing list! It’s also the best way to stay up to date on what’s going on with me, and how that whole world domination thing is going. You can join by going to www.kaceyezell.net.

Also, Mark Wandrey and I released Weaver at Liberty Con this year, and we’d love to have your readers check it out and if they liked it, leave a review! (Rob’s Note: Please give us reviews. Please, please, please. It’s huge)

Also, also, Minds of Men was just selected as a 2018 Finalist for the Dragon Award for Best Alternate History Novel! <cue excited screaming!> The Dragon Awards are a big deal to me, because they’re a truly fan-favorite award.

Rob’s Note: If you want to vote for the Dragon Awards, go here: http://application.dragoncon.org/dc_fan_awards_signup.php


Many thanks to Kacey for taking the time to let me interview her.

If you have any suggestions or comments about the interview format, let me know. I’m always looking for ways to improve it.

Thanks for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326.

If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Also, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

 

Pennsic AAR

Greetings all

This year’s Pennsic is approaching the end and I should be writing more on the short story I started tomorrow, but my brain is tired. Instead, I thought I’d go ahead and write my AAR.

Ever since Gulf Wars in March I have been almost continuously on the road between conventions and our move. It has been a wonderful time, and wonderful for my future given that I have (generally) met all my writing deadlines, made new customers, plotted new plots, and ended up in my wonderful house with my wonderful sweetie.

I am so happy to be at this point. I am also beat.

Nevertheless, this has been one of the best Pennsics I’ve had in many years.

The main reason is that my sweetie joined me. Not only was it fun to have her around, she did the vast majority of the camp chores and cooking so that I could focus on work. I ate better than I have in years and yet had less work than ever. Also, my apprentice was able to come. It was, basically, the first time my SCA household was together at a major event.

I’m a lucky man. Well, until they gang up on me 🙂

From the work side of things I would grade this a solid B+/A-. I was a little cramped for space in the trim shop, but even so this was my best-selling Pennsic. I went well past my basic sales goal, thanks to a very good Friday.

I have proof of concept that selling Ren Faire, Celtic, Traditional, and SCA CDs can make money. I’m ending up with about half the number of CDs that I brought, even though I bought 9 more from a couple of performers here on site, Emer nic Aiden of Ealdormere and Finnech inghain Labhrainn from Atlantia. I’ve got more artists coming, as well.

We are looking at ways to expand my portion of the trim shop so that my growing stock will be better displayed. I also have a number of fun ideas to increase traffic. There’s a lot of moving vectors, so it’s hard to say exactly how things will be arranged next Pennsic, but I am clearly leveling up.

Again, I have to thank Master Andrixos for giving me the opportunity to sell with him. I wouldn’t have had a chance to get off the ground without his help. He’s also been looking at ways to facilitate that leveling up. We’ve made a pretty good team so far and I look forward to continuing that partnership.

In other news, I did my first live interview as opposed to the form I send out. You can find my interview with Vincenzo here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1283. I think that went very well, so I will start planning on more face to face interviews at future events.

From a writing perspective, I finished a short story and sent it to an editor. I don’t know yet if it was accepted, but it’s always good to get things sent out. I also made good progress on a couple of other short stories.

I had more energy than in past years, mostly because I had help. That meant I was able to do more bardic than in past years, which was nice.

Tonight we will empty the shop and do the pre-packing. Tomorrow, we’ll finish packing and get on the road as early as possible. We’ll get as far as we can before getting a hotel and finish the drive on Sunday.

With that, I’ll start doing my prepacking in the shop. Catch you all when I get home.

Rob’s Update: Leaf In The Wind

Week 32 of 2018

Greetings all

Last night was Moonlight Madness at Pennsic. What does that mean? It means that every merchant here stays open until at least 11pm or so. It’s often a lot of fun as the merchant area is lit up and filled with laughter. There are various different groups who do parades or some other pageantry. It’s a neat time, as well as good for sales.

It’s also exhausting.

My big news this past week is that I submitted a short story to an editor. I haven’t heard back whether they accepted it, but even so it’s progress. Plugging away.

I spent the early part of the week working with another short story. It’s close, but it needs more umph. I’m going to let it gel and get back to it next week. There’s a core to it that I really like, plus some fun openings for the future, but it’s not quite there yet.

So today I’m going to work on a new short story in Shijuren. I have had a couple of ideas I want to explore and I don’t really want to dig into something big until I get back and settled.

Finally, if you haven’t watched it yet, please take some time and watch my interview with Vince Conaway. This week I decided to do my weekly interview face to face and I think it came out great.

And with that, I’m off to toss words at the page.

Current Playlist Song

As mentioned in earlier updates, I’ve expanded the products I sell at conventions and events to include Celtic, Ren Faire, SCA, filk, and convention music. Most of Pennsic has been me listening to Pandora Celtica and Bedlam Bards.

Right now, I’m listening to “Leaf In the Wind” by Bedlam Bards, one of the great songs from their CD “On the Drift” of Firefly-themed songs. Great CD. I’m out of stock but will try and get more.

Quote of the Week

Today in 1854, Henry David Thoreau published Walden, so here’s something from that that seems pertinent.

“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.”

– Henry David Thoreau, Walden

News and Works in Progress

  • CB (6,526)
  • AFS (2,681)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Vince Conaway. I actually recorded a live interview with him here at Pennsic. You can find the interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1283 and you can find his website at: http://www.vinceconaway.com/.

Today’s WeightNot sure, will update after Pennsic

Updated Word Count: 171,032

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen 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

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

Interview: Vince Conaway

Greetings all

Since I’m at Pennsic and there are a ton of fantastic creators here, I thought I’d do something different for this week’s interview. Vince Conaway, known in the SCA as Vincenzo, and I did this week’s interview under my shade fly. Many thanks to Richard Larmer for being our stellar camera dude.

Let’s get straight to the videos:

Where to find Vincenzo

Also, Vincenzo mentioned a number of people in the interview. Here are some links to check out.

Thanks very much to Vincenzo and Richard for letting me try something different. I had a lot of fun, and I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did.


Finally, let me know any suggestions or comments you have about this interview format so I can keep tweaking it.

Thanks for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326.

If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Also, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

 

Rob’s Update: Vivat the Dream

Week 31 of 2018

Greetings all. I’m writing from Calontir Trim’s shop at Pennsic. It’s been, and will be, a wet Pennsic. The advantage is that it’s been very cool. My sweetie would prefer warm and clear, but I’m happy with the low temps.

I run a bardic circle every year on the first Monday of the way. That went very well this year as the rain held off until there were few enough that we could squeeze under my shade fly. Lots of great performances and it’s a chance to see some wonderful people I’ve not seen in a year.

Speaking of which, you’ll get to see one of those wonderful people on Tuesday. I have a special interview lined up so stay tuned.

It’s been an weird week in terms of getting things going. We’ve had a number of delays and we really only got operational yesterday. We still have some set up to do, but that’s mostly the lights for Midnight Madness next week.

As I’ll expand on below, I’ve been fighting the short story for the 4HU that’s already late, but I realized a few nights ago the solution. I’ve been powering through a brand new start on it today. Despite all the distractions, I’m really pleased with the new twist that fixes all the frustrations that blocked my way.

This kind of thing is fairly standard, by the way. I write and bang my head until what makes the story work comes to me and I switch everything around to fit the better story. The extra stuff that doesn’t fit goes into another story, and the stuff I’m not using will  go into the next book.

Anyway, back to work for me.

Current Playlist Song

We don’t have any music playing in the shop. However, Faye from Atlantia is here and her favorite SCA song is “Vivat the Dream” by Warjna Waleska Katzjmjr (Varina Suellen Plonski) because of the lines:

“Chivalry, courtesy, honor, and love
Are ideals we cherish all others above”

So she sang them for me. I’m a lucky man.

Quote of the Week

Today is the birthday of Kevin Smith. He’s one of the reasons I write, because he keeps pushing people to follow their dreams. He took a huge plunge when he wrote and directed Clerks, which is still one of my favorite films. Side note, if you want a grim ending, watch the alternate version of Clerks.

In any case, he’s one of the people I admire the most and he’s one of my inspirations. He recently had a heart attack and barely survived. Today, on his birthday, he posted one of the taglines from Clerks:

“I’m not even supposed to be here today!”
– Kevin Smith

News and Works in Progress

  • CB (6,560)
  • LD (2,451) (Formerly TAV) I was actually up to well over 5,000 and I realized I wanted to do something different. I’ve made great progress on this new version this morning. I’ll get another bunch this morning as I decided to show, not tell, something from the previous version. This will help set up the novel better, provide more action, more explosions, and more rounds downrange.
  • AFS (2,681)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is with Ian J. Malone. You can find our interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1272 and his website is at: https://ianjmalone.net/.

Today’s Weight: Not sure, will update after Pennsic

Updated Word Count: 161,170

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen 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

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

Interview: Ian J. Malone

This week’s interview is with Ian J. Malone, who I met while on the same panels at a number of conventions. He writes SF, including a short story in For A Few Credits More along with me.

He’s also a guy who works hard for all of us independent writers. At least once a week, he’s posting useful links or websites in his Facebook group the Alliance for Indie SF&F Authors. If you’re an independent writer, it’s a good group to keep track of.

Anyway, here’s the guy himself.

Interview: Ian J. Malone
Ian J. Malone
Ian J. Malone

What is your quest?

I’m easy to peg on that one, brother. I aim to live on the beach one day, making enough money as a full-time SF author to support my family. That’s it. If I can pull that off, I’ll be over the moon.

What is your favorite color?

As the tagline goes, I write “character-charged sci-fi with a shot of country.” That’s a fancy way of saying I write stories about every day, blue collar folks who wind up in situations that aren’t so every day in nature. Most of the time that involves high flying space ships in some capacity, plus aliens, other worlds, AI, and so forth.  Inevitably, though, most of my protagonists tend to be human as I’ve always found them more relatable to read/write.

As an aside, I also really enjoy wearing hats… a lot.

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?

The biggest challenge I faced, particularly in the beginning, was learning how a story is supposed to look in text, on the page. I’m legally blind, and have historically done all of my reading via audio. So, when the time came to write a novel of my own, I had A TON to learn about style and technique.

Example: I never knew when penning my first book that a character’s thoughts were presented in italics. You kinda don’t get that in an audiobook.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I’m a chronic lister. My daily tasks at work, chores around the house, writing goals. You name it, and I’ve probably got it dictated onto a note in my phone somewhere.

As social media goes, I’m also a big fan of the list feature on Twitter. I keep lists for every topic imaginable, from craft and publishing to geek culture, news and sports. Moreover, the tweets on those lists come exclusively from sources that I’ve vetted, which helps to cut down on the whole fake news thing.

Note: I wish Facebook would give me a feature like this. It’s absurdly efficient. Alas, Father Zuckerberg hasn’t seen fit yet in his infinite wisdom to bestow upon we, the little people, such an enormously helpful tool. *sigh*

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? ANIMAL!
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy, all the way.
  • Favorite Sports Team? Florida State Seminoles
  • Cake or Pie? Gotta go with pie, especially when it’s my wife’s homemade apple.
  • Lime or Lemon? “He was green! Like a lime!”
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  I make a Mexican layer dip that I’m told is legendary back home in Florida.
  • Wet or Dry? Wet makes me think water, so I’ll go with that.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?  Joe Bonamassa featuring Beth Hart
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Never was a Scotch guy, so gimme that e.
  • Favorite Superhero? Superman.
  • Steak Temperature? Medium
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? 70s were before my time. Best I can do is early 80s, in which case I’ll go with Miami Vice.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall = college football season and chili weather
  • Favorite Pet?   The Cranes!
  • Best Game Ever? John Madden Football
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee, black
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Sci-Fi

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

Why in the holy name of frak are you a Cowboys fan, Rob? Come on, man. I thought you were better than that! :p

My Answer: Because I grew up in Hillsboro, TX in the early 1970s, which is near Dallas. I’ve been a Cowboys fan since 1973 or so. In other words, I come by this fandom honestly.

Every night at Pennsic I’ll spend some time checking on Twitter and my feeds for news from Cowboys training camp. I’m really excited about this year’s team. Last year was lost to Roger Goodell being a jerk, and at some point we’ll win it all again and I can’t wait to see him have to give Jerry the Lombardi Trophy.

 Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

I’m for sale “wide” in all the usual places: Amazon, Kobo, B&N, iBooks, etc.

And where can we find you?

Do you have a creator biography?

As a graduate of Florida State University, sci-fi author Ian J. Malone has written in a variety of arenas ranging from public health to news and sports. When it comes to his fictional work, however, he’s a firm believer that nothing shapes a person’s writing like experience. That’s why he credits his tenures in radio, law enforcement, and military contracting for much of his inspiration, plus the legion of family and friends who’ve stood with him along the way.

Beyond writing, Malone is an avid fan of audiobooks (he’s legally blind) and the outdoors. It’s also not uncommon to find him at a ballgame, a concert, or somewhere out by a grill.

Malone is an active member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and a resident of Durham, North Carolina — but he’ll always be a “Florida boy” at heart.

Colonies Lost
Colonies Lost

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

You might have asked, “where can readers test drive your work before buying?”

Answer: Anybody who signs up for my email newsletter at ianjmalone.net gets not one but two free short stories! The first is titled Mako: Genesis, and serves as the official prequel to my SF adventure series, The Mako Saga. The other is titled Nightfall: A Roanoke Short Story, and serves as the prequel to my new book, Colonies Lost.

Subscribers will also get first look sneak peeks at new book materials, as well as occasional updates on release schedules, events, and discount/freebie promotions.

Malone’s latest book, Colonies Lost, tells the story of a disgraced US Marshal who takes a freelance case to feed his family, only to come face-to-face with America’s greatest unsolved mystery: What happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island?

You can find Colonies Lost for sale on Amazon, or wherever ebooks are sold.


Finally, let me know any suggestions or comments you have about this interview format so I can keep tweaking it.

Thanks for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326.

If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Also, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Rob’s Update: Comrades From Birth

Week 30 of 2018

I’m sitting in an Eat n’ Park in New Castle, PA about to get some supplies for Pennsic. Pay no attention to the fact that Beer 4 Less is across the parking lot.

People often say that coming to Pennsic is coming home. I get that, but to be honest, after all this time coming here, I find that New Castle is a big part of that.

It’s a rust belt town, with all that entails. Still, there’s some amazing buildings here, including a stone house I’d love to someday be wealthy enough to save.

I look forward to Pennsic for different reasons now than the first time I came. I no longer look forward to the big battles like I used to. Now what I enjoy is a couple of weeks of a great work space, writing and selling in Calontir Trim.

I greatly appreciate that Master Andrixos gives me space in his booth to write and sell. I get good traffic, plus I can sit and write in a work environment. In many ways, it’s the closest thing to an office environment I have.

I’m sure those of you who work in offices every day are looking at me like I’m crazy, but I haven’t really had a 9-5 job in fifteen years or so. I kind of like having the schedule for the time I work here.

Maybe I am crazy after all.

Anyway, speaking of work, I need to finish a short story today.

Current Playlist Song

Ah, the joys of restaurant music. This week’s song is “Lotta Love” by Nicolette Larson. There’s a lot of great music from the 1970s. This isn’t necessarily one of them.

Quote of the Week

I return to Master Andrixos and move to a much better song for this week’s quote. He is in the process of moving to be with his stepdaughter and (any moment now) grandbaby. He’s been a fixture of Calontir, and he’ll be missed. He moved away for a bit for work a while ago before coming back, and at at the time wrote a song that seems like the perfect source for this week’s quote, especially since we’ll sing it quite a few times this war.

Farewell, my companions, my comrades from birth.
Well tested swordsmen who wander the Earth.
Many a bottle we’ve emptied in mirth
And in many a battle we have proven our worth.

– Master Andrixos, “The Leaving Song”

News and Works in Progress

  • CB (6,560)
  • LD (3,543) (Formerly TAV)
  • AFS (2,681)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Michael J. Allen. You can find my interview of him at: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1259 and you can find him on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B0096GEILG/?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true

Today’s Weight: 388.4

Updated Word Count: 158,522

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen 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

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

Interview: Michael J. Allen

Greetings all

One of the most intimidating moments I’ve had so far as a writer came at Constellation in October last year. I was on a panel of writing military science fiction. What was intimidating was that Orson Scott Card was to my right and David Drake was too my left.

Wowza.

Anyway, there was a fourth member of that panel, Michael J. Allen. In truth, I think we both did pretty well. We each made a point or two, but we were also both smart enough to learn from the rock stars.

Interview: Michael J. Allen
Michael J. Allen
Portrait of Michael J. Allen

What is your quest?

I’m searching the Nothing looking for the Awesome. In his online classes on creative writing, Brandon Sanderson teaches there’s always room for more awesome.  I strive to create stories that match what I’m looking for in the bookstore. I love old things made new, creating elements everyone knows with a twist mixed in with something new to create (I hope) the awesome.

What is your favorite color?

My favorite color would have to be silver. As before, I endeavor to make new from old in a way that is understandable. I want the logic to be consistent. In an upcoming release I created a world guarded by phoenixes, but I wanted every element represented, not just fire. That meant figuring out what a water or a life based phoenix might rise from if killed. So for something like a modern day water phoenix to rise from her essence, she might have to watch tearjerker movies in her nest to build up enough tears to be reborn.

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush? (

Plaid of course. I come from a hard work equals success background, all measurable and quantitative. As a writer the equation ceases to be linear. A constant frustration in my writing career revolves around reaching the success rate my old world brain tells me I should be making in this new world as an author.

Discarded
Cover of Discarded

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

When discharged, my hand grenade creates a swirling rainbow vortex straight into fairy land, summing thousands of flesh eating sprites—talk about tasted by the rainbow.  If I had to pick one technique I use well, it would be bringing dialogue to life. I admit I worry sometimes that my stories contain too much dialogue, but it comes so naturally once I’ve figured out the internal/external goals, motivations and conflicts of a given character. A story is about people, and making the people real required them to be as fully formed in my imaginary world as you or me…probably more you.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Animal came to mind first, and who doesn’t want to live without bothering to filter or apply self control., but as I started to answer I remembered Grover from Seseme Street, a kind goofy guy who happens to be a bumbling superhero reminiscent of The Greatest American Hero.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? That’s a rather personal question, don’t you think?
  • Cake or Pie? Pie, one to the face is a hell of way to win a planet from the Klingons (See “How Much for Just the Planet” by John M Ford)
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime, the overlooked but sweeter infiltrator from the citrus regime.
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  It depends on who’s in the tub with me.
  • Wet or Dry? The night was sultry.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?  Danny Kaye, though you probably would know who he was if you saw him. (Rob’s Note: This isn’t terribly surprising given Michael’s sartorial style. He is always very well dressed. Maybe not as nice as my Rush t-shirts, but worthy of the Danny Kaye style)
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Rum, the only drink for a pirate.
  • Favorite Superhero? Greatest American Hero/ SuperGrover
  • Steak Temperature? Medium Rare and damn the consequences!
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Battlestar Galactica
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Winter, it’s damned hot in the south.
  • Favorite Pet?   I’ve had a lot of dogs over my life, so that’s a hard choice. She’s not the best behaved of all the dogs I’ve trained, but my black lab Magesty is a dyed in the wool cuddler.
  • Best Game Ever? Wing Commander: Privateer (or its spiritual progeny Elite Dangerous)
  • Coffee or Tea? Choosing between tea and not tea, always choose the tea.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy?  Science fiction, you can have all the same wonder, magic and weird races as with fantasy, plus a bunch of cool toys everyone can play with—well, okay. Some fantasy might have better toys.

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

Who was the professional author you wanted to meet most and how’d the meeting go (assuming you’re not still stalking)?

My Answer: Well, without a Tardis or something like it, I can’t meet any of the authors I really want to meet. Tolkien would be fun, especially if we could break down the Finnsburh Fragment and Episode together. I would love to talk language choices with Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. I’d really like to meet the writer of Beowulf and hear him perform it. Same for Homer.

If we’re talking people who are actually alive today, then I’ve been lucky enough to meet most of them. David Drake, I mentioned above. I’m met David Weber, Larry Correia, John Ringo, and a bunch of other Baen authors at LibertyCon. All of them have been generous with their experience to a fledgling writer such as myself. 

Fey West
Cover of Fey West

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? (All the web presence you’d like me to link to)

And where can we find you? (Events and cons you’re scheduled to attend)

  • July 26 through 29 Raleigh Supercon
  • August 30 through Sept 3 DragonCon

Also, I have two new releases.

Do you have a creator biography?

Michael J. Allen is a bestselling author of multi-layer science fiction and fantasy novels. Born in Oregon and an avid storm fan, he lives in far too hot & humid rural Georgia with his two black Labradors: Myth and Magesty. Warped from youth by the likes of Jerry Lewis, Robin Williams, Gene Wilder and Danny Kaye, his sense of humor leads to (in order) occasional surrender, communicable insanity, a sweet tooth and periodic launch into nonsensical song.

Fresh out of teenagers, his days are spent writing in restaurants, people watching and warring over keyboard control with the voices in his head.  On those rare breaks from his highly contested ​102-key self-therapy ​program, he can be found​ experimenting in the kitchen, enjoying bad Sci-​Fi movies, playing D&D or the occasional video game, getting hit with sticks in the SCA or hanging out with the crew of Starfleet International’s U.S.S. DaVinci.​He’s great at remembering names – if they’re fictional, and knows basically nothing about music.

To learn more about Michael, check out his website at www.deliriousscribbles.com

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

The same question I asked you. Which pro did I want to meet most? For me, unfortunately, it was Terry Pratchett, and I was not fortunate enough to make his acquaintance. (Rob’s Note: He would indeed have been fun to meet, especially tossing ideas back and forth)


Finally, let me know any suggestions or comments you have about this interview format so I can keep tweaking it.

Thanks for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326.

If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Also, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

 

Rob’s Update: Finding My Way

Week 29 (sorta) of 2018

Greetings all

Wow, so much to get to.

First, welcome to all the new subscribers. There’s quite a few of you from LibertyCon, InConjunction, and OComicCon. Thanks for joining in to my little corner of weekly madness.

Well, it’s usually weekly, scheduled for every Thursday. However, this is actually last week’s update. Also, this week’s update is going to be a little late. I’ll probably do it on Saturday at Pennsic since most of Thursday will involve hundreds of miles of interstates between here and there.

Why am I late this week? Well, mostly because I spent the last week nesting and organizing.

Some of that is because my Mom gave me a new desktop computer for my birthday. I’ve needed one for a while, as my old system no longer could keep up with my typing speed. Thanks, Mom!

The new system also allows for up to 4 monitors, and I’m in the process of figuring out how to use all of them. I also spent the week organizing a variety of data, including some old CDs I uncovered while unpacking. I found a bunch of pictures from my 2006 trip to England and Macedonia that I thought I had lost. I’ll post some of them one of these days. You might even get to see pictures of Achrida as I remember it.

I’ve also been nesting and organizing since the move. Thanks to Johan and Tigernan, the house is now merely a home with some clutter as opposed to a storage unit with showers.

Part of the challenge has been to replace as much of the carpet as we could before moving stuff on to it. We’ve replaced it with bamboo flooring. I can’t recommend this stuff enough, at least up to this point. It’s cheap ($1.69/sq ft), looks good, and has already shown to hold up pretty well. We got the heavy stuff, 5/8 inch, and it has a solid feel to it that thinner laminates don’t have.

Anyway, we have cool new floors in the TV rooms and office, which we are really enjoying.

Then, yesterday, Tigernan came over and moved box after box to get stuff at least to the right floor. The garage is now open and useful again. All of the furniture, with the exception of Giulia’s desk, is in the right place for now. Also, there’s a huge pile of trash that Olathe will take tomorrow and be gone. Much of this is stuff from the storage shed, which he took up front.

I am, for the first time since I moved to Olathe in 2011, truly organizing my workspace.

It’s nice, especially since I want to be more productive going forward.

Current Playlist Song

Eric Clapton and Stevie Winwood’s live version of “Can’t Find My Way Home.” One of my all time favorite songs.

Quote of the Week

Today is the birthday of John Rutsey, the original drummer of Rush. He only played on their debut album, so today’s quote comes from that album.

“I’ve been gone so long
I’ve lost count of the years
Well, I sang some sad songs
Oh yes, and cried some bad tears”
-Rush, “Finding My Way”

News and Works in Progress

  • CB (6,560)
  • TAV (2,841)
  • AFS (2,681)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Not a darn thing as I’ve been nesting, though I intend to do a OComicCon AAR

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

No spotlight this week, as I have been focused on other things. However, I have some neat ideas for Pennsic if we can make them work.

Today’s Weight: 384.4

Updated Word Count: 156551

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen 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

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