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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.

 

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: Too Silent To Be Real

Week 28 of 2018

Greetings all

InConjunction went reasonably well. I didn’t sell as much as I’d hope, but I made some new connections that could be very useful. I also really enjoyed my panels and spending time with Jon Osborne, who was next to me.

Still, I was really glad to get home. I am not as enthralled with 11 day trips as I once was. This is especially true since I knew there was work to do on unpacking.

This week has not been terribly productive in terms of writing. I’ll have to focus on that next week. However, it’s been a productive in other ways and been an enjoyable week.

My apprentice came down for a few days. She helped us unpack, organize, and joined us on a variety of errands. The best part, however, is that I had planned to visit Finola, the Fyrd Mom and founder of Calontir’s Soup Kitchen, to read a portion of Brief Is My Flame. This portion was the one where I first describe the character I based on her. Her daughter Jenna provided chicken soup and cookie dough, traditional Soup Kitchen choices, and told some  stories of Calontir’s past. I had a great time as was very happy the apprentice was with me.

We also did some nesting. The floor in the main portion of my office was completed on Tuesday, so we got to move in the two big bookcases I planned to put in here. We also moved in a bunch of things, and unpacked most of the old SF/F magazines that I own. I’m putting them in here because I’ll be reading one of them a week and writing a blog post to review them starting in late August.

This week, I’m off to OComicCon. I’ll set up tonight and we’ll see how this show goes. I’ve never been here before, but I think I’ll do well.

Have a great week, everyone.

Current Playlist Song

Right now, it’s the “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” by Gordon Lightfoot. I enjoy this song for a variety of reasons, but as a writer I’m amazed at how much he packs into every word. Great song.

Quote of the Week

On 12 July, 1862, Congress authorized the establishment of the Medal of Honor for the US Army. So, today’s quote comes from Alvin York, who won the Medal of Honor for taking a machine gun nest. This quote came from his memoirs.

“I had orders to report to Brigadier General Lindsey, and he said to me, ‘Well, York, I hear you have captured the whole damned German army.’ And I told him I only had 132.”

News and Works in Progress

  • CB (6,560)
  • TAV (2,182)
  • AFS (2,681)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on J.L. Gribble. You can find my interview with her at http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1237 and you can find her website at https://jlgribble.com/.

Today’s Weight: 388.0

Updated Word Count: 155,799

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

Rob’s Update: Grey My Way

Week 27 of 2018

I’m in Indianapolis at the Lincoln Square Pancake House getting ready to load in for InConjunction. They have a take on biscuits and gravy involving jalapeno cornbread and queso. I had to try it.

Anyway, I’m slowly recovering from LibertyCon. What an amazing time. My detailed after-action report is here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1224. LibertyCon is so good, that all 750 tickets for 2019 sold out in 6 hours yesterday. Actually, 5 hours, 52 minutes, and 20 seconds, but who’s counting.

I’ve got mine, don’t worry.

The big result, from my perspective, is a slight change in priorities and focus. I’ve got two books currently planned, None Call Me Mother and The Feeding of Sorrows (working title for the Four Horsemen novel). However, I’m going to turn more focus on some short stories.

This weekend is InConjunction, which is a much different con. I’ll be involved in a variety of panels plus I’ll be selling in the author’s alley next to Jon Osborne, another writer in the 4HU. Then I get home as quickly as I can. I should be back to Olathe on Sunday night.

I’m ready. It’s been a crazy last two months, and I still have a month or so to go. It’s been productive, and I’m really happy with the direction everything is going, but I am so glad I don’t have anything huge scheduled for a while after Pennsic.

Anyway, the stories aren’t going to write themselves, so I better get back to work.

Current Playlist Song

Something too low to hear over the voices of other guests, but with the occasional country twang.

Quote of the Week

I heard this song on the drive yesterday, and as my birthday approaches, it seems more and more relevant.

My life is slipping away
I’m aging every day
But even when I’m grey
I’ll still be grey my way
– Rush, “I Think I’m Going Bald”

News and Works in Progress

  • CB (6560)
  • TAV (2,007)
  • AFS (2,681)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s interview was with Rob Hobart, an amazing gamer and now a writer. You can find the interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1229 and his Amazon page at: https://www.amazon.com/Sword-Amatsu-Empire-Moon-Book-ebook/dp/B07CWKP2LW/.

Today’s Weight: 386.8 (Last week)

Updated Word Count: 154,715 (Finally totaled up everything)

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

Rob’s Update: Our Hearts Shall Be Bolder

Week 25 of 2018

Brief Is My Flame is done! It’ll be live on Amazon next week.

I’m excited. I have definitely leveled up, both in terms of writing and in terms of production. I’m very pleased with it.

I want to take a moment and apologize for not getting last week’s update out on the blog. For some reason, WordPress wouldn’t take it. I did email it out to my list, however. Also, I should be back on my normal schedule.

The move is going apace. We have gotten a floor replaced in one room, and that has helped tremendously. The cats are adjusting. Nearly all the stuff is in the house in Olathe. We will be starting my office in the next couple of weeks, and when I get back from Pennsic I’ll finally have something designed to my specs in a comfortable room.

Over the next week, I clear up a bunch of things I’ve not paid attention to between the move and the book. I also will finish TAV, and hopefully make some progress on a 4HU novel, but that may wait until after LibertyCon.

A week from today, I should be in Chattanooga getting ready for LibertyCon. This is one of my favorite events of the year, and I’m really looking forward to it.

My next month is still extremely busy, but I think I’m at the top of the roller coaster.

Current Playlist Song

I’m with my mom today at the hospital for a scheduled procedure, so I’m not really listening to music, so I’ll quote something I used in Brief Is My Flame. Many thanks to Jonna Bernstein for letting me use these words.

For our hands shall be the harder, and our will shall be the wiser
And our hearts shall be bolder as our strength must end
Come and follow me to glory, so that when they tell the story
We shall not be forgotten in the halls of men
Jonna Bernstein (Rosalind Jehanne), “Battle of Maldon”

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote is the blurb for Brief Is My Flame:

An ancient foe threatens the realms of the west. Irina Ivanovna gave up her throne to search for that threat, and now finds herself pursued by a skilled runelord. Etain Muirghein must discover the truth before the other captains of the Western Isles rise against her. Ivan Yevgenich has spent his life defending his people but now faces the greatest Kreisic leader ever to hold a sword. And Geirr Stronghair wishes only to keep Svellheim at peace, but uncovers something more terrifying than war.

Fear and anger have seeped into the very stone of the Kreisens. No one knows the source of the poison, but all can see the flashing steel and searing flame that come in its wake.

Will rivals overcome centuries of hate to become allies? Will a riddle nearly two thousand years old reveal the means of saving Shijuren? Or will the swords of good men taste the blood of those they should protect?

The rulers of the western realms are right to worry.

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (2,007)
  • AFS (2,681)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

I didn’t do an interview this week, so I’m putting the spotlight on Jonna Bernstein, who let me use one of her songs in my book. You can find her stuff at: http://www.rosalindjehanne.com/

Today’s Weight: 385.2

Updated Word Count: Something like 150k, but I’ll know for sure next week.

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 349 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

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Rob’s Update: The Finish Line

Week 20 of 2018

The original plan was for me to turn Brief Is My Flame over to my editor on Tuesday. However, she preferred to get it on Monday, so I’ve been polishing it.

Which has actually added several scenes that I realized where needed. Editing, for me, involves taking words out of what I’ve written because they’re useless, and then adding whole chunks of new scenes. There’s little in between for me.

This other part of this week is that I took back the house in Olathe. There’s been moving of stuff, prepping to paint, and so on. We also bought a washer/dryer set today.

The house is a mass of things in the wrong places, with many more to come, but we’re making progress.

Current Playlist Song

Walter Murphy’s “A Fifth of Beethoven.” Disco meets classical. I’m right there.

Quote of the Week

This is why I pay Kellie Hultgren.

“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.”
– C. J. Cherryh

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (2,007)
  • AFS (2,681)
  • Brief Is My Flame (100k or so, off to Kellie on Monday)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Kit Daven, one of many fun people I met at Ad Astra a couple of years ago. You can find the interview I did with her here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1120 and you can find her online at: http://www.kitdaven.com/.

Today’s Weight: 388.4

Updated Word Count: 1057

Shijuren Wiki: 736 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 59 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: Todd Fischer

I know Todd Fischer as Colyne from Ealdormere. Among his other skills, he’s an amazing poet who can write in just about every medieval poetic style, which I can attest is not always easy. The sonnet ain’t got nothin’ on drottkvaet.

But as you’ll see, he can write much more than that.

What is your quest? I am eclectic by nature and I think that comes through I my writing preferences—namely, that I do not have any. I’ve written fiction, non-fiction and poetry; I’ve written horror, sci-fi, fantasy and “regular” fiction. When I first began to write, however, I was primarily focused on horror fiction. I was a young teen and I had just discovered the works of H. P. Lovecraft while camping in the woods of northern Canada. On a trip to town we had stumbled across an underground bookstore—literally underground, not figuratively—and after descending the concrete steps and entering the shop I was immediately drawn to the horror section where I found a large tome that arrested my attention. The cover was black and white but had red highlights, emphasizing the alien eyes and mouths of the depicted alien entities. I had heard of Lovecraft, thanks to the Real Ghostbusters episode featuring Cthulhu, so I eagerly bought the book and read voraciously from its font under the leafy canopy of the forest. This, I decided, is what I wanted to create.

Todd Fischer

So I started writing horror stories. I dabbled in some fantasy as well. Through the rest of high school I took part in some writing programs which resulted in Leon Rooke (author of the award winning Shakespeare’s Dog) reading one of my stories and telling me I was a sophisticated storyteller. That sealed the deal for me! I was gonna be a writer!

I applied to York University to study Creative Writing, which was a three year program, but you had to pass an introductory course in your first year before you could apply. (So a four year commitment in total.) You had to send in a portfolio to apply for the intro course, and only a certain number of applicants would be selected. Likewise, if you passed the course, you went through a similar application process for the actual course. It was a harrowing experience and somehow I managed to get into the program. The program exposed me to numerous forms of writing (as did all the English courses I also ended up taking) and I began to work in more than just horror and fantasy fiction.

During this time I got married, and my wife and I started “imelod, the litzine of horror and the bizarre” and published around twenty issues over the years publishing folks such as WH Pugmire, Jeffrey Thomas, John Ford, Stanley C. Sargeant and Ian Rogers. We also published chapbooks and a few comics. Our bestselling issues were those devoted to Lovecraft and eventually we started a second imprint called Mythosian dedicated to work of the Lovecraftian ouvre.

When I graduated university the plan was for me to work part time and devote the rest of my days to writing. Things did not go according to plan. As they say, man plans, Cthulhu rises from R’lyeh and consumes the world. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this is when my severe depression began. I had always suffered from depression (we know think since childhood) but this is when it began to become insidious and truly interfere with my life. I began to work full time in a company where the atmosphere was toxic, and I stayed there for just over ten years. My depression increased. I could no longer handle the constant rejection that comes hand-in-hand with being a writer. I stopped writing. We stopped publishing imelod.

About ten years passed. I went through a horrible six year stretch when my depression was at its worst, culminating in a breakdown. I was at a loss.

By this time I had joined a medieval recreation society and I was feeling adrift within it, as if I had nothing to offer the group. One of my friends suggested I try writing wording for club awards (in the Ontario chapter of this society each award handed out usually has personalized wordings). I had done some writing for the club when I started but had stopped as my depression got worse. So I took that suggestion and began to write again. From researching and writing these awards I began to write stories and articles and—most notably—poems. I wrote two monographs for the society’s monograph series and published poems and articles in several other society publications. One of my books (Osse Poetices) grew out of a project I did for the club.

In 2017 I decided it was time I got back up to bat and I began writing again for a wider audience. And that is the goal of my quest, my MacGuffin. While publication credits are excellent, and I am glad to be getting some again, it is the simple act of creation period that is my real goal.

(ed. note: One of the reasons I started writing fiction was to pull myself out of my own dark places. They weren’t as dark as what Todd faced, but dark enough. The need of a creator to create, I guess.)

What is your favorite color? I generally prefer stories (or poems) that are weird or surreal, such as the writings of China Miéville. Whimsical, but dark. You may find parts of my writing inspired by Shel Silverstein, Lewis Carrol, Mercer Mayer, Stephen King, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Thomas King. My visual depictions draw on Tim Burton and the Rankin-Bass specials and films.

I prefer language that is direct, and usually conversational. Realistic dialogue. I don’t mind when rules are broken, but to truly break them, you have to understand them.

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush? As I mentioned above, I have severe depression. I also have several other mental and physical conditions that can make concentration difficult. It tends to take me a long time to finish a project if it’s longer than a few pages. I am highly self-critical and constantly doubt the validity and worth of my work. Since I work in short bursts when the stars are right, I sometimes rush things through during these manic periods, which means I do not spend enough time editing.

Occasionally I scratch my head when I receive a rejection from an editor. One specifically said they doubted the veracity of several details of a scene in my submission that was autobiographical—each incident they said was unbelievable had actually occurred. (Still, getting personal feedback is a rarity, and I appreciated receiving it.)

(ed. note: A perfect example of writing needing to make sense, where history doesn’t care if it makes sense or not.)

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade? I have always been told that my dialogue is realistic, and that my imagery can be a “tour de force”.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? I think I identify the most these days with Kermit the Frog, who feels as if they weight of the world is on his shoulders, who is desperately trying to navigate this crazy world while creating art.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Creamy.
  • Favorite Sports Team? I do not follow the sports ball, so I generally just root for the home team wherever I am.
  • Cake or Pie? Cake, of the cheese variety.
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon, in an ade.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Dill.
  • Wet or Dry? Lubed is always preferable.
  • Favorite Musical Performer we’ve Never Heard Of? Leo Moracchioli’s heavy metal covers on YouTube are great.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? I don’t tend to drink much, and when I do I’m generally not picky.
  • Favorite Superhero? Wolverine. As a short, hairy Canadian I always identified with him. I also loved his bestial nature and his claws were cool, yo.
  • Steak Temperature? Well done. My stomach demands it.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? All in the Family.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Autumn. The season of apples, and pumpkins, of baking pies and crunching leaves, of oranges and reds, and All Hallow’s Eve. Spring is my least favourite season. It is cool and damp and wet and all the snow melts revealing the trash it had been hiding.
  • Favorite Pet? (provide pictures if you want) Mine, of course. She’s a rescue; a beagle-lab mix named O’ber (which is short for October). She has come a long way since we adopted her but she still sometimes has issues with other dogs. I have also had cats, rats and gerbils.
  • Best Game Ever? I play way to many games to choose one as the best of all time (card, board, RPG, video, etc). However, I loved the Mass Effect video games (especially 3), especially the setting they had created. For board games I enjoy paying Scythe, Parade, and Firefly: the Game. While I know the system is not everyone’s favourite, I grew up playing the Palladium Books RPGs and am still partial to them.
  • Coffee or Tea? Tea, but usually only if it’s iced. (In Canada, iced tea is sweetened. If I’m in the States I enjoy both iced and sweetened tea.)
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? I generally think that a lot of sci-fi is just fantasy in space anyway, so I tend to gravitate more to fantasy. If it’s dark, that’s even better.

What question(s) would you like to ask me? Just how much of your writing is grounded in actual history?

My Answer: That depends upon what you mean by grounded in. If you are asking if I have specific events that I am writing around, generally not.

However, I tend to write sort of like making a stew or pot roast. I don’t have a set recipe, more of a gathering of what’s at hand. Yet, at the bottom it’s almost always a beef roast.

History is sort of the base to everything for me, but it’s often not the big things. Trade routes, logistics, types of food that are available, materials and techniques used to produce stuff are all things I pay attention to. For example, I am constantly checking to see what vegetables and fruit are available in various places during different times of the year. I won’t say they’re always precise, but you can generally expect that what characters glean during their travels is, in fact, accessible.

That’s not to say that I don’t also pull from real events, people, and places. I do that, too, especially from stuff I find using Wikipedia’s random article function.

It’s all what comes to mind at a given moment that gets tossed into the pot.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

Many thanks to Todd for taking the time to join me. Take a look at his work. Or don’t and risk Cthulhu’s wrath. Choose wisely 😀


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: 2018

Week 1 of 2018

Greetings all

I hope everyone is recovered from New Year’s Eye. I am, as of today. Yesterday was a bit of a zombie moment as I recovered from enjoying our trip to St. Louis.

However, I’m of as sound of mind and body that I can be right now and I make these plans without duress, though I see the WW1 Flying Kitty is on the prowl.

Speaking of sound mind, thanks to my apprentice, I may be of sounder mind than I have been in a long while. I’m someone who stares at his phone at night. I’m also someone who hasn’t had a good night’s sleep since the early 2000s. Those things do not correlate, exactly, as one is not necessarily the cause of the other, though it is a contributing factor. My apprentice pointed out that blue light is a problem, and my phone has a blue light filter. I don’t know if it’s entirely the cause, but I’ve been sleeping better since I turned it on. There are other factors, like some temporary stability in December and such, but it’s certainly helped. While I’ll probably never get a good night’s sleep, as defined by most people, I am sleeping better of late.

Anyway, I have two goals this year. The first is to put out 365,000 publishable words. Yep, I’m aiming at 1000 publishable words per day. What do I mean by publishable? Well, something that is either published or in the process of getting published. I will count blog posts towards that, in part because now doing blog posts will seem more productive in my head than I normally conceive of them. I know I need to put more there for it to get more followers, but it’s not easy for me. Doing this will appeal to the same part of my mind that really enjoys mowing the lawn. I get my exercise out of the way and I’ve done something else.

Speaking of exercise, my other goal is to lose weight. Both my sweetie and I want to walk when things get finally settled, though that’s still a ways away. Still, the day to day life is better now, even it’s not our permanent solution, and when I’m home I’m eating better than I have been. That’s helped.

However I do it, I’m going to use you all to help me but holding myself accountable on both things. The last thing on each week’s update will be my current weight and updated word count. You’ll get to see it happening.

For my blog, I’ll be setting things up to have a standard day to put some things out. For example, Wednesday will be my update day.

Friday will be Event Report Day, though I’ll sometimes do it on other days given the schedule, depending upon the schedule of the event. Here I’ll comment on the last event, or recent ones, and talk about events I’m attending.

I have some ideas for Monday. I think it might be Random Wikipedia Article Story Prompt Day, or something like that. Basically I’ll look at a few random Wikipedia articles, something I routinely do anyway for story ideas, and put the first story idea that comes to mind out on a blog post.

Please note that I will *not* be emailing these out. I said I’ll send you at most one email a week, except for the occasional major announcement, and that’s my limit. These things will only show up on the blog, which will then get announced on Twitter and Facebook.

As for the Weekly Email,  I’ve added content as well as accountability. The first thing will be the song I’m listening to when I send this email, with maybe some commentary or memory about the song.

One more thing I’m going to do is put the current word count of the next novel, so you have a benchmark. I’ll also be putting the short stories I’m working, under their file name acronym, which means you won’t know anything about them, other than that I am working on them. I’ve been wondering how to tell you when I’m making progress on these, and I think this will be the way.

This blog post has 1057 words. Only 363,943 to go in 2018.

Current Playlist Song: “Wish Them Well” Rush (Clockwork Angels) It’s just not worth keeping the demons in your life. Just wish them well.

Quote of the Week

You have now heard my plan. I think this quote from Firefly sums up the notion of plans right well.

Zoe: Cap’n’ll come up with a plan.
Kaylee: Well, that’s good. Right?
Zoe: Possible you’re not recalling some of his previous plans.
– Firefly (Safe)

News and Works in Progress

  • Short Story: DOR (1678): A new project I aim to finish next week.
  • Brief Is My Flame (28834): I did a lot of cleanup on these files, mostly because I realized I had mixed a couple of things up.

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

I love Firefly not just because of the writing, characters, and stories, but also because how it inspired some friends of mine, the Bedlam Bards. You can find their music on Amazon here or just search for them. On the Drift is an entire CD of Firefly-themed music.

Today’s Weight: 388.4

Updated Word Count: 1057

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
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

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

2017 Season Overview

Here are my predictions for the 2017 NFL Season. I’m really excited for the year.

This, by the way, is the TL:DR page. You can find my detailed discussions at my divisional breakdowns.

Here are my divisional breakdowns
NFC East: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=814
NFC North: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=818
NFC South: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=816
NFC West: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=820
AFC East: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=804
AFC North: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=812
AFC South: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=810
AFC West: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=806

NFC Playoffs by Seed
1. Seattle Seahawks (NFC East champion)
2. Dallas Cowboys (NFC West champion)
3. Green Bay Packers (NFC North champion)
4. Atlanta Falcons (NFC South champion)
5. Washington Redskins (Wildcard 1)
6. Minnesota Vikings (Wildcard 2)

AFC Playoffs by Seed
1. New England Patriots (AFC East champion)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West champion)
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC North champion)
4. Tennessee Titans (AFC South champion)
5. Los Angeles Chargers (Wildcard 1)
6. Denver Broncos (Wildcard 2)

Wild Card Round
Green Bay over Minnesota
Washington over Atlanta
Pittsburgh over Denver
Los Angeles over Tennessee

Divisional Round
Dallas over Green Bay
Washington over Seattle
New England over Los Angeles
Kansas City over Pittsburgh

Championship
Dallas over Washington
New England over Kansas City

Super Bowl
Dallas over New England

I look back at my predictions for 2015 and I see much the same things. That makes me worried. However, I really do think this Dallas team is far deeper than I’ve ever seen. Had Tony Romo stayed healthy in 2015 and they had average luck on fumble recoveries (they were extremely unlucky), I think they’d have done really well.

I don’t like my predictions in the NFC. All four of the division winners are the same as 2016. In all honesty, the Cowboys are the most vulnerable, though perhaps the Packers. I simply don’t see anyone taking the division titles from the Seahawks and Falcons. Still, the two wildcard teams are different and that’s about right.

In the AFC, I have three new playoff teams, which is again about right. Tennessee is the only new divisional winner, though. Still, I just can’t see anyone dethroning the Patriots or Steelers, though I could see anyone win the AFC West.

Still, there’s too much chalk. It’s too close to what it was last year. I’m not seeing my mistakes, but they’re there.

However, I’ll stick with this as it’s what my process ends up saying. It’ll give me a chance to examine my process next year. By the way, I explain that process here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=301.

Welcome to the new season, everyone!