Category Archives: Arts and Literature

Posts related to Rob’s interests in arts and literature.

And Your Old Men Shall Dream Dreams

It’s an odd thing to speak in the official ceremony of memorials, especially for someone as close as a parent. On the one hand, there’s so much I could say, but much of it is so mundane. On the other hand, the interesting stuff is often not appropriate. Plus, it’s not like one gets all that much practice at it.

In the end, I chose to go with one of my dad’s loves, Kansas poetry. During the time he was building up the web presence of small Kansas towns, he was also building up a sizable collection of Kansas poetry. Every time he’d come across a dusty copy of something, often printed around the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, he’d snag it and put it on the web.

Interestingly, there’s quite a lot of poetry written in Kansas during the late 1800s, early 1900s. Some of it quite good, like the one I chose to read.

The author of this poem is Esther Mary Clark Hill. She is most known for her poem Call of Kansas, which was written while in Long Beach, California. Essentially, the poem says that no matter how pretty the California beaches are, the prairies call her back. I understand that feeling.

Anyway, the poem I chose was this one:

And Your Old Men Shall Dream Dreams

The old men sit by the fire and doze
And dream to their souls’ content.
They were gallant enough in their time, God knows!
But the gold of their youth is spent.
They were rovers, daring and eager then,
In their manhood’s radiant dawn;
They are rovers still for their souls at will
Go venturing on and on.
The length and breadth of the Hebrides,
From the far north fields to the southern seas,
Past the austere Pillars of Hercules,
Venturing on and on.

They stir uneasily in their sleep,
They shuffle their hearth-bound feet;
While the visions last they must hold them fast
For the dream is sweet, is sweet!
The old wives sit by the fire and knit
And dream of their girlhoods gone;
But the souls of the old men seek the lands
They never have trod upon.
For the languid beauty of tropic shores,
Through the shrouding mists of the far Azores,
Past the frozen cliffs that are Labrador’s,
Venturing on and on.

We, too, shall sit by the fire some day,
When our blood runs chill and thin;
And our once swift feet are no longer fleet
For wandering out and in.
We, too, shall sit where the old wives knit
And the old men doze and yawn,
As bent and gray and as spent as they
When the flower of our youth is gone.
We shall nod and dream as the years drift past,
Till we come to the one great dream, the last,
And then, with our hands on our hearts locked fast,
Go venturing farther on.


I’m sitting in an Applebee’s* in Kennesaw, GA right now ready to go to LibertyCon. I almost wish I’d paid for my room for tonight, instead of starting tomorrow as I’m very much looking forward to it. I don’t need a room, Sam Davis has graciously let me crash at his house, but man I’m ready to go.

I’ll do a pre-LibertyCon post tomorrow, but I wanted to finally write about my strategy and goal of Shijuren. I’ve said for while I want to build a world, not simply write a few novels. This, then, is how I aim to do that.

First, I’ll be writing no less than two novels a year in Shijuren as long as I can afford it. One will be an Edward book set in Achrida that I will aim to finish over Thanksgiving each year. I will also write sequels to I Am a Wondrous Thing until I finish the series. Then I’ll write some different series. I might also write an online serial, based on different characters with different stories.

All of these threads will be essentially separate. There will some commonalities, of course, like the magic and occasional crossover characters, but there will be no need to read all of the threads to enjoy any one of them. You’ll get some benefit to reading them all, for if you learn the system of magic in one, you’ll understand it in all. Plus all of the other benefits of reading in the same world.

However, if you prefer the mystery style of the Edward novels over the fantasy style of the Kreisens series, then you can just read those without having any concern that you’re missing crucial aspects of the story by skipping the parts that are not as appealing to you. My ultimate goal is to tie all of the characters together in a later series, but I will endeavor to do so without requiring that you have to read the earlier novels to understand the final series.

When I described this at Planet Comicon, one of the people I talked to said it was something like the Marvel universe. That you could enjoy the Avengers without necessarily having read all the Ironman series, or the Captain America series, or whatever. I like that analogy. I’ve also heard that Robin Hobb has done something like that, but I’ve not read her books… yet. My original thought was to invert the Dragonlance series, which started with a party of D&D characters that as they got higher in level branched out to have separate stories.

The question remains whether I can execute my strategy to the level that these previous examples have done. I quite like what I’ve done so far in the Kreisens series, with Edward having a small role and with the geopolitics brushing along with both.

Now, it’s entirely possible that I won’t do this well, or even if I do, that the stories get so enmeshed that readers will want some information from the books. That’s where the wiki will come into play. One person’s spoiler might be another person’s TL:DR, allowing them to have the information without necessarily reading the books.

You might wonder why I’m structuring this so that people can avoid buying some of my books. I do so for a variety of reasons. One, I’m writing in multiple genres. My mother, for example, likes mysteries, but does not like epic fantasies. I have a number of friends who prefer the other way around. I want to write big scope stories eventually, without alienating people who prefer the different styles.

Two, I believe, as an entertainer it is my job to make you want to read my books. If I write good books and good stories, thereby making you want to read my books, then you’ll buy them and read them. If I don’t, or if I write some in a genre you don’t like, then that’s my fault, not yours, and I shouldn’t expect you to buy them.

Again, I can’t promise I’ll execute this vision well. I can promise I will do my best to write good stories and tie them together. I can also promise that I won’t stop writing in this world. Life might prevent me from writing in this world, but I won’t stop by choice.

I have a lot of stories to tell in Shijuren. I hope you join me as I find out what they all are.

* As a side note, I’ve grown to love Applebee’s. The food’s not great, but it’s not wretched. However, they all have internet and most have outlets available at some tables. And they’re everywhere, meaning I can always find an office to work in.

Two Months

OK, that’s ridiculous. I should not take two months to update this blog. I do apologize.

However, here’s what I’ve done the past two months. I published The Eyes of a Doll, I’ve had some sadness with my family, I survived the holidays, took charge of my health, and wrote most of I Am a Wondrous Thing, the first of a trilogy starring Irina, the former Velikomat, or Great Mother of Periaslavl.

My writing processes are improving, and I’m getting faster, meaning I have no excuse not to update more frequently. In fact, next week, I will pick a day where I always update the blog each week. Probably Tuesday.

I’m starting to really like the way the Irina story is shaping up, after having a number of, not false starts, but incomplete starts. This is my first attempt at writing a trilogy, and also a larger epic fantasy novel.

With the first person Edward novels, there aren’t as many threads I need to weave into the story. Part of my incomplete starts was my lack of realization that I need to include more people. This is a 300k plus word story. Irina isn’t the only major figure, and I realized I needed more protagonists. Plus, I want to write what the bad guys are doing too.

Oh, and if you’re interested in the workings of the magic, you’ll understand completely how Love Magic works by the end of these, plus quite a bit with Line Magic. If it’s any consolation, I will too. I’m a pantser and while I have been planning the physics behind the magic system for 20 years, I am discovering that the magic is just like another character, it tells me how much more it wants to be involved.

Anyway plan is to finish the first draft of I Am a Wondrous Thing next week, and then go to ChattaCon while Kellie tells me exactly where I screwed up 🙂 I’m still aiming for April 1st release date so I can have some when I go to Ad Astra in Toronto.

I’ve also started laying out in my mind some of the challenges and faced with the next novel, which will center around the Readers and lore magic.

In the meantime, back to the grindstone.

I’m baaack

Sorry for the long delay since posting. I should have a chance to be more consistent until the next deadlines happen.

I can report that I have sent The Eyes of a Doll to my editor and alpha readers. I’m late because of Lilies and Pennsic this year, but I think I’ll be able to recover and get it published in early December. My goal is to have paper copies by Kris Kinder, Calontir’s shopping event the second Saturday of December. For that to happen, I need to have the book finished by 30 November at the latest, so expect to see the e-book on Amazon somewhere around then.

This journey is a process and, not surprisingly, has been filled with a few potholes. I’m learning though, and am encouraged by the future.

I have a good start to the 3rd book in the Shijuren world, and will have that draft finished by about the same time as I publish The Eyes of a Doll.

The 3rd book is about Ludmilla, though I’m thinking I’m changing her name because Ludmilja seemed the perfect name for a character in The Eyes of a Doll. This book is not set in Achrida, but starts in Periaslavl and will explore the Kreisen. It’s goal for release date will be 1 April.

I’m already planning the 4th book in Shijuren. This one will focus on a Reader learning more than he wanted to learn. I’ve been waffling on where I want to set it, so I haven’t named him yet.

That’s enough for now, expect some football posts this week. Cowboys-Giants on the 13th cannot come soon enough.