Category Archives: Uncategorized

Rob’s Update: Circumstances

Week of 28 May – 3 June

Greetings all

Where Now the Rider is done and will go live for e-book on 3 June. The paperbook version is in process and will be live about the same time. I’ll be ordering copies and will have some in a week or two.

Waiting over the weekend allowed me to strengthen the ending. I had some great ideas come up when I was writing the conclusion, ideas that build Edward up and further enmesh him in Achrida while still touching on the over-arching metastory of Shijuren. By letting it all percolate over the weekend, I was able to slide all that in without the seams being as obvious as they might have been. I’m really excited about it.

If I don’t enjoy reading a story, how can I expect you to? Well, I enjoy this story.

I’ll admit that after the con and getting a bunch of detail work done, I haven’t created much new content this week. I’ll do a bunch of writing over the weekend to catch up. I’ll be focusing on two short stories, though I’ve got a chapter of Brief Is My Flame that is wanting to come out as well.

I’ll be doing that writing amidst a bit of chaos. I’m going to move at some point in the early fall, it looks like, and packing has commenced. I’m trying to do a little here, a little there, and I’m making progress. Man I have lots of books.

Quote of the Week

There are days when this lyric just matches everything.

All the same we take our chances
Laughed at by time
Tricked by circumstances

– Rush, Circumstances

News and Works in Progress

  • Brief Is My Flame
  • Two short stories
  • Fiddly bits of getting Where Now the Rider live

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

At ConQuest I had a lot of fun on panels with Selina Rosen. You can find her stuff at http://www.selinarosen.com/.

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
  • A Lake Most Deep (Edward, Book 1)
  • The Eyes of a Doll (Edward, Book 2)
  • Where Now the Rider (Edward, Book 3) Forthcoming 2017
  • I Am a Wondrous Thing (The Kreisens, Book 1)
  • Brief Is My Flame (The Kreisens, Book 2) Forthcoming 2017
  • None Call Me Mother (The Kreisens, Book 3) Forthcoming 2018

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

Weekend Notes

The basis of my plans most weekends involve either doing something with my writing, like a con or event, or spending time with my sweetie. This weekend I got to do both.

We had planned to go to an SCA event on Saturday, but the weather literally put a damper on that. Plus, I couldn’t sleep for some reason on Friday night. So we ended up going to Ikea and getting barbeque.

I don’t buy much from Ikea for two reasons. One, their modern style simply isn’t to my taste. Give me Victorian, Edwardian, or medieval and I’m happy. Two, as a non-svelte man I find much of Ikea’s stuff terrifyingly light. My big butt needs a big chair.

However, I do like going to the store because they often have interesting ideas and cunning ways to arrange things. They’re really innovative, even if they don’t fit me. I got some ideas for my next house.

Plus, my sweetie really enjoys shopping there, even if her tastes match mine to a great degree. We’ll be moving in together at some point in 2017 and had a great time talking about how we would prefer things in our house arranged.

We went to Joe’s KC initially for barbecue. When we got there, the line was hugemongous, out the door, and around the building. I don’t blame them. Joe’s KC is my favorite KC barbecue place. However, I didn’t want to wait that long so we went to another barbecue place I had heard good things about: Q39.

The reviews were correct. Not quite as good as Joe’s, in my mind, but still very tasty. The pork belly, white bean cassoulet, onion string appetizer was fantastic.

However, they did something that I hate hate hate. Did I mention hate?

For all that is holy, barbecue restaurants should never serve their meat with sauce already on it! Anybody can make a sauce, but it takes real skill to make great meat.

Yes, I know I could order it dry. Yes, I normally do so. However, Saturday, I was tired and forgot. And I want my meat without sauce!

What? Oh, yes, that’s a pet peeve, why do you ask?

Anyway, I’d still recommend going there. It’s not quite as good as Joe’s KC, but still very good. Just remember to order it dry.

Yesterday, I drove around 550 miles to St. Louis and back to record two episodes of the Write Pack radio podcast. One episode focused on Plutarch and writing non-fiction. Obviously, as a historian I was able to use my academic experience here. My big point of emphasis was to constantly critically examine your sources and to get as many different sources as possible.

I suspect most of you reading my blog already know this, but it is important enough to mention again. Every source is biased. You need a bunch of sources from different points of view so you can reduce the overall effect of those biases. The most biased source you will ever deal with is yourself, so always try and account for it. You’ll fail to do so completely, but it is a windmill that one must always tilt at.

I believe this episode will air on Sunday, 4 June.

The other episode we recorded involved how to use editors and criticism. Among the things I talked about is creating a team of people around you, like a race car driver does, and trusting them to do their job.

I also talked about how Kellie has improved my writing by telling me some of the mistakes I’ve made time and again, so I can eliminate them in the future.

This episode should air on Sunday, 11 June.

You can find Write Pack Radio and all their podcasts in a number of places, depending upon how you like to listen:

All in all, a fun, productive, and tiring weekend. The way they oughta be.

Rob’s Update: Pre-Order Madness!

Week of 14-20 May

Greetings all

Sorry for the delay this week. I’ve been wanting to wait until I could announce that Where Now the Rider is live on Amazon for Pre-Order!

Yes, Where Now the Rider can be ordered on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071462WXM

I still have one last editing pass to do. That’ll be done next week. The pre-order is listed as coming live on 3 June, because Amazon has a rather draconian policy about pushing back a release date but has no problem with pushing it forward. Makes sense, I suppose, but it means that every time I do pre-order options I’ll be factoring in an extra week just in case.

This has been an odd week for me, in that I’ve spent so much time on WNTR and this past week I’ve had to let it sit and work on other projects. There’s been a short story I’ve made progress on and some work on Brief Is My Flame. I’m going to start a couple more things soon, in part because I think I’m a guy who will be more productive flipping back and forth on more projects. Two books a year is nice, but certainly not enough.

Quote of the Week

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Chris Cornell. His voice was simply amazing, and Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger is one of my all-time favorite albums. At one point, I loved much of the grunge movement, but in truth, most of that faded for me. I can’t even really listen to Nirvana anymore. The only bands whose music has remained strong and fresh were Soundgarden and Alice in Chains.

Outshined was the lead song on Badmotorfinger, and Cornell said about it once that it described how the most insignificant thing could take him from amazing self-confidence to the depths of self-loathing. Small things, but stuff that gets in his head. I’m much the same. The good news is that sometimes it goes the other way and a small thing can get me going again.

Humans are weird creatures, and I think I’m about the weirdest.

I’m feeling that I’m sober
Even though I’m drinking
I can’t get any lower
Still I feel I’m sinking
– Soundgarden, Outshined
News and Works in Progress
Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

 

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

I’ve talked about him before, but I’m going to put Patrick McEvoy back in my spotlight. I think this is my favorite cover of the ones he’s done for me. It has the happiness of food, beer, friends, and a friendly cat, all with the unknown threat. He does a bunch of stuff, and you can find his art at: http://www.megaflowgraphics.com/

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
  • A Lake Most Deep (Edward, Book 1)
  • The Eyes of a Doll (Edward, Book 2)
  • Where Now the Rider (Edward, Book 3) Forthcoming 2017
  • I Am a Wondrous Thing (The Kreisens, Book 1)
  • Brief Is My Flame (The Kreisens, Book 2) Forthcoming 2017
  • None Call Me Mother (The Kreisens, Book 3) Forthcoming 2018

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: I Am Groot’s Speechwriter

Week of 23-29 April

Greetings all

It’s been a great week here. Some weeks you pound away and you don’t see any real progress. You know there’s some there, but you don’t see it. This was one of those weeks that make the others look better.

First, it’s always a great thing when you get a good review. I got a fantastic review about The Eyes of a Doll this week. Reviews are life for writers, independent writers especially. I can’t emphasize this enough. Feedback helps us become better writers, of course, but the Amazon algorithm tends to push items that have more reviews. If you buy books, either e-, audio, or paper, from independent writers, please give us reviews. They matter. They really do.

And, if it’s a good one, it doesn’t hurt our ego any, which is nice too.
Second, I have made real progress on the audiobook front. It’s still some months away, but progress has been made. I’ll tell you more when I have more details, but they’re a-coming round the mountain.

Third, I’ve essentially finished Where Now the Rider. I’ve started to do a final editing pass where I read it in my Kindle app. For some reason, things I miss on a larger screen are blindingly obvious to me when I read it on my phone. But it’s a complete story.

Fourth, it’s a good thing, too, because this weekend will be packed. I’ll be in booth 2245 at Planet Comicon. I had a great time last year and would have made money if I hadn’t bought dinner for all my help. I think I’ll do better this year because I have a third book. I’ll also have a couple of other things, and once I have pictures I will show them off.

Fifth, I did the reveal for the cover of Where Now the Rider on Facebook. For those not there, I put this on my blog, and you can see the large version at: http://robhowell.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/WNTR-Front-Cover.jpg

I really like this cover. The colors feel right to me, and I love the doom of the clutching hands reaching at us. Patrick McEvoy has done fantastic work for me over the years.

Sixth, a number of little things, all positive, that should make my life easier going forward.

A little bit here, a little bit there.

I do hope I see a number of you at Planet Comicon this weekend. If not, have a great weekend. I will.

Quote of the Week
I really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy, and I suspect I’ll see some cosplayers portraying characters from the first movie, especially since we’re only a week away from the second one hitting the theater. I’m excited, and I hope I get to sign “I am Groot’s speechwriter” on a bunch of books this weekend.

Here’s another of my favorite exchanges from the movie:

Groot: I am Groot.

Peter Quill: Well that’s just as fascinating as the first 89 times you told me that. What is wrong with Giving Tree here?

Rocket Raccoon: Well he don’t know talkin’ good like me and you, so his vocabulistics is limited to “I” and “am” and “Groot,” exclusively in that order.

Peter Quill: Well I tell you what, that’s gonna wear real thin, real fast, bud.

News and Works in Progress
  • Finishing touches on Where Now the Rider
Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions
Upcoming Events
Spotlight

I find that some times I need to leave the house to be at my most productive, so I find bars or restaurants to work at. My favorite for some time has been Brewbaker’s in Lenexa. It’s probably time I put my spotlight on them, especially given that I’ve spent something like 30 hours here in the past week and a half. Their website is: http://www.brewbakersbar.com/

Right now, I’m eating their chicken strips, which are really good, and their zucchini and squash, which is even better. Actually some of the best I’ve ever had.

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
  • A Lake Most Deep (Edward, Book 1)
  • The Eyes of a Doll (Edward, Book 2)
  • Where Now the Rider (Edward, Book 3) Forthcoming 2017
  • I Am a Wondrous Thing (The Kreisens, Book 1)
  • Brief Is My Flame (The Kreisens, Book 2) Forthcoming 2017
  • None Call Me Mother (The Kreisens, Book 3) Forthcoming 2018

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

Scroll Text Sunday – Albrecht von Trier’s Chivalry Text

Greetings all

It was a busy weekend and I’m only now catching up with the blogging. Here’s Sunday’s scroll text.

I have been blessed to get the opportunity to write scroll texts for a number of awards bestowed outside of Calontir. This one was written for a friend who now lives in the Outlands, Albrecht von Trier.

The text is modeled on that of the Hildebrandslied, an epic poem of the 9th century. Also serving as inspiration was the Ludwigslied. This was an example of a Preislied, a poem in praise of a warrior.

As I’m sure you can tell, it seems very much like that of Beowulf and Anglo-Saxon poetry. This is not surprising, of course, as they all come from a similar poetic tradition. About the only difference is that the Germanic tradition is a little looser on the location of the alliteration but much stricter in the language, preferring not to have much in the way of kennings or other word-play.

I chose this style as opposed to my initial expectation that I would be writing in the style of the Nibelungenlied because it matched better with Albrecht’s historical persona of a warrior in Saxony during the tenth century. Interestingly, as a result of the Anglo-Saxons wanting to convert the old homeland of Saxony, much of the literature and learning of Saxony especially was influenced by Wessex and Mercia.

Some words are glossed below. They are all in Old High German.

Albrecht – Chivalry

I have heard tell                                of heroic deeds
When armies stood                         arrayed against foes
Of a heriman proud                         wearing bright halsberg
Who stood in battle                        when stags shed blood
And held shieldwalls                       with soaring huscarls                   5
His sight so clear                               seeing all around him
No foe escaped his eyes                 except that lantwyrm
Lurking in southern sands            luring wandering souls
Though he stood tall                       even after it struck
And he heaped ruin                        on other hosts                                  10
With flickering spear                       and flowing blade
Such that falkkuning’s                    own sword was given
And on fields where                        blood flowed to three seas
Yet once more did                            Albrecht von Trier
Stand before many hosts              breaking linden-shields             15
There did Garick kuning                 gift-giving kneht
And Yasamin kuningen                  call to their host
That Albrecht be raised                 to his rightful station
So on this, the feast day                of St. Theotimus
In the XLIVth season                       since the stag first ran               20
Is Their word spoken,                     sealed and witnessed.

Notes

Line 3: Heriman: warrior
Line 3: Halsberg: coat of mail

Line 4: A reference to Estrella War

Line 5: Though getting this award in the Outlands, he was also a Calontir huscarl

Line 6: This line refers to his eyesight, which is terrible

Line 7-9: Lantwyrm: land dragon (in this case the culverts at the Florence Estrella site). This refers to his ability to stumble through huge obstacles which he cannot see yet somehow emerge unscathed. These concrete irrigation culverts are 4-5 deep and 6 or more feet across that required bridges for everyone but Albrecht.

Line 12: Falkkuning: Falcon king, and this line tells of the Sword of Calontir that was bestowed upon him.

Line 16: Kuning: King
Line 16: Kneht: warrior, obviously a cognate with cniht in Old English and knight in Modern English

Line 17: Kuningen: Queen

Line 19: Theotimus was a saint who preached through Germany in the 4th and early 5th centuries.

 

Kansas Author’s Club Reading AAR

Just finished my reading at the Kansas Author’s Club District 2 meeting this morning. Many thanks to club president Ronda Miller for inviting me.

My choice of reading was the section of A Lake Most Deep near the end as Edward leads everyone into the Gropa Mansion and begin the Agatha Christie-style ending. This is the same section I read at Ad Astra in April.

I wish I’d realized, though, that I had more time. I could have done the section from I Am a Wondrous Thing I read at LibertyCon, which, though about 20 minutes, is a much stronger piece. Perhaps if I read it a few more times I won’t always cry while I do so.

In any case, while I don’t think I read the snippet from ALMD poorly at Ad Astra, I think I did a much better job of reading it today. Every time I do a reading, though, I really appreciate my theater experience and time in the SCA as a herald and performer.  I’m still not sure if I’m choosing the correct snippets to read, but I’m confident I’m presenting them reasonably well.

The other headline performer, Mark Scheel, read a snippet about becoming a writer that skillfully wrapped a core of good advice inside a humorous shell. Then he read one of his poems.

I then mentioned that I had a poem in IAAWT, the riddle at the end, and they graciously gave me the opportunity to read it as well. I have the opportunity to submit up to a page for the 2017 KAC yearbook, and I think that might be what I put in.

There were 12 of us total, While Mark and I were the headliners, each person had the opportunity to read what they had available. Many of the other readings were quite good. The most powerful one was a gentleman named Mike who read about his experiences on 9/11. As a historian, the most interesting actually came from Sally Jadlow, who is fictionalizing a series of letters about her father and family in the 30s and 40s. I was reminded of the song Kilkelly.

District 2 is in charge of the 2016 Kansas Author’s Club convention, so there was also a goodly amount of discussion about the logistics of the con. Since I don’t really have a ton that I have to do because I got in late, I’ll be helping some in the book room. I also added my name to do a reading in the evening on that Friday.

It also made feel a lot more confident going into the KAC convention as I now at least have an idea of some of the other attendees, including putting faces to emails.

All in all, a very pleasant way to spend the morning. I got to talk about my books with a collection of readers, hear quite a bit of well-written stuff, and talk about writing in general. I’ve created quite a full list of things to attend in the rest of 2016, but I know I’ll be back when I can.

Such Friends

It’s been a Chinese curse kind of week. Very interesting. And memorable.

Every year at this time I go to Lumberton, MS to participate in Gulf Wars, a week-long SCA event. This year was extra special to me for two reasons. This was my first time working as a merchant selling my books with Master Andrixos at Calontir Trim. More importantly, two close friends got married in New Orleans the Saturday before.

The weather forecasts for the wedding, which was intended to be outside in Washington Square, were dismal. Fortunately, the weather ended up being really nice. A little sprinkling, but not much. The wedding was memorable, helped by all the lovely outfits my friends wore. I have beautiful friends, especially when they doll up all pin-up style. The best part of the wedding was Duncan singing to Gwendolyn. We all cried at that.

Then we had fun roaming the French Quarter. A pack of Calontiri on the loose. My favorite moment was sitting on one of the balconies eating hot dogs and watching my friends carouse on the street below us.

Then we get to site and things get a little more interesting. Basically, I have too much stuff. I love my setup, and I love that I can host and provide shelter for my friends, but it’s tiring at times. Anymore, I *have* to have help, and this time was provided by Uji, who did the hard work of hammering in the 20 big stakes, and Nakos, who helped me maneuver my big cooler into place.

However, despite the help of friends, I have to streamline my setup and make better plans. Fortunately, I have impetus. I’ll get to that later, along with some ideas.

I also fought, but did so very poorly because I’m out of shape. Fixing that will help with the campsite issue too, and make wars more fun for me. Yeah, I know it’s obvious. Working on it.

One thing I did change this year is that I brought less beer than I had in previous years. Part of that is the Shatto Milk Underground Railway I help with, but mostly because I don’t drink beer as much anymore. Frankly, I needed to clear out most of the IPAs in my fridge this past week because I don’t really drink them at home.

I was successful. For the first time ever, I ran out of beer and cider.

Very strange feeling for me. I’m a person who gives beer out, not asks for handouts.

Anyway, sales were slow, slower than I anticipated. Still, it’s a really productive time for me. If there’s no one there, I’m getting work done and if there is, I’m getting publicity. Again, I can’t thank Drix enough for the opportunity.

Of course the elephant in the room for Gulf Wars XXV is the microburst / tornado that hit camp on Thursday just after Calontir court. It ended the illustrious life of the Calontir Royal Pavilion and it ended the war. I was holding on for dear life to keep my tent upright, and for the most part it seems to have survived. I did have a couple of stakes pull up, but it withstood the 60plus mph winds.It provided some shelter for a number of people during the worst of it. Can’t ask more, really.

Still, it was terrifying and everything in my tent was wet.

At least it wasn’t the first microburst I’ve endured. Poor Amethyst had no previous experience, and while it’s terrifying, having been through it before at least helps one be more fatalistic about the fact that there is nothing you can do.

But after it ended, I was done. I was worried that my computer, which my ex-wife graciously allowed me to store in her store tent instead of carrying back and forth from my tent to Calontir Trim, was destroyed. I did lose some stock. I’ve not inventoried quite how many yet, but that I didn’t lose more was thanks to the quick action of Drix.

Anyway, I was done. Done with Gulf. Out of spoons. Exhausted. Angry with the universe. Pissed off. Frazzled. Scared. All of that. Did I mention done?

Fortunately, I have friends. I was able to get my car, and with the help of Conrad, Charles, Nakos, and others, we packed up my tent and I got on the road. I got home on Friday without any real issue. The I-555 / US-63 / US-60 / MO-13 / MO-7 route is getting better every year. All the stuff jumped out of the car yesterday, and some is clean, though I’m still working on that process.

I’m going to toss out some other names that helped me. It’s not an exhaustive list, just what’s coming to mind days after the events of this week. Thanks to Thyri, Miriam, Claudia, and BDR for putting up with me in Drix’s tent. Erich and Elasait for getting me some beer. Cullen and Daniel, who are real inspirations to me. I don’t know whose idea it was to have me discuss the Fyrd Box, but it was inspired.

My goal is to have 1000 unit sales, total, by the end of the year. Not much, but it would signify that I’ve got a real chance in this business. Gulfnado hurt sales and cost me stock. I’ve been down, both emotionally and physically, since the storm, despite the help I got getting off site.

But today, I had someone who I’ve never met in person complimented me on The Eyes of a Doll. Suddenly, I’m energized again. He’s not the type to give unwarranted praise, either, and he had no need to do so. Thank you, Sanford and Cedar. This is twice they’ve done this for me, as I saw her review immediately after shattering my window at Pennsic in August. If I ever become a completely successful author, it will be in large part because of you too. Thank you very much.

So, I guess there’s only one way to conclude this post, and that’s to repeat a quote I’ve said before. Were this quote not true for me, I honestly don’t know how low my life might be. Fortunately, it *is* true and I’m happily looking for the next windmill.

“Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.”
-William Butler Yeats

 

 

 

More LibertyCon and Plans

LibertyCon was amazing. I enlisted into the Royal Manticoran Navy. Chatted with David Weber and other authors I admire. Learned a ton. Got an amazing signed Munchkin card that I’m not framing but totally using.

Like last year, I find myself reinvigorated afterwards. It’s not that the mountain I want to climb is any less tall, it’s that the path seems clearer. This comes at a good time as I’m really busy right now.

I have promised my editor that I will have a copy of the next book in the Shijuren series to her by 1 August with a release date of 1 December. This will be another Edward book, a direct sequel to A Lake Most Deep.

I had originally planned to start another series set in Shijuren before continuing with Edward. However, I want to release an Edward book every late November / early December and I might as well start that rhythm now.

This means that the first Ludmilla book will come out about 1 April. I’m deciding between which of the other characters I’ve been constructing in my head to release around 1 August. That will be my general plan each year, though the characters other than Edward will change each year.

One thing that came up at LibertyCon is the idea of Patreon. I am contemplating setting up a system. The plan would be that I would publish at least twice a month at least two chapters from the next book. They would be raw and unedited, but would be samples of what’s ahead. My patrons would hopefully be able to provide suggestions and ideas.

Given that I will have a four month cycle, that means at least eight times and at least sixteen chapters of the next book. Subscribers get charged whenever I add something, so at least twice a month I would be tapping them for either $1 or $5. At $1, the person would receive the ebook version when it is published. At $5, the person would receive the ebook and paperback when it is published. That would be a minimum of $40, which is a lot for a $15 item, but this way I can pay the shipping and $5 is an even amount.

This is my initial thought and over the next couple of months I’ll be playing with ideas. I’ve had a few people pushing me for the next book already, with is wonderful and gratifying. I’ll get their advice.

I am also already excited about LibertyCon next year. By that point, I’ll have three books in Shijuren, plus one really close. That seems to be the tipping point of what defines a readable author in this field, which I understand. We don’t want to invest in characters we’ll only see once.

I guess I should have just said I’m excited about everything, and LibertyCon was the lens that showed me the details.

See many of you in Chattanooga 8-10 July next year.

Busy Time

Greetings all

It’s been a very busy time here in Robland. I am the event steward for Lilies War, a big SCA event in Calontir. That is happening this week and I’m playing a little hooky to get some other things done.  Fortunately, my co-steward and event staff don’t really need me anymore.

The big news here, though, is the arrival of A Lake Most Deep in paperback form on Amazon at:
http://www.amazon.com/Lake-Most-Deep-World-Shijuren/dp/0996125914/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1434217490&sr=8-1&keywords=rob+howell

Enjoy. For me, I’m back to the war and being a big, bad boss.