Category Archives: Aesc & Thorn Publishing

Posts related to Aesc & Thorn Publishing and various aspects of Rob’s professional life.

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

Interview: JL Gribble

Interview Questions

I met J.L. Gribble on a panel at ConFluence last year and we had a very good time.

J.L. Gribble Portrait
J.L. Gribble Portrait

What is your quest?

I love writing books that I want to read. For too long, the publishing industry has determined the trends and fads, so I love that my small press lets me experiment with my fiction and tell stories that don’t fit nicely in any one genre. Romeo and Juliet with werewolves and weredragons? Time travel with a twist? I’m free to stretch the limits of my imagination, regardless of whether such things are “not done” in the urban fantasy genre.

What is your favorite color?

For a long time, my favorite color was blue. I was never a girly sort of girl, so I felt that acknowledging my love of purple would be a betrayal of things I pushed against. Now, as I take a look around my computer desk, at my purple Kindle cover, my purple post-it notes, my purple computer mouse, etc., I’ve learned to embrace what I love no matter what I think others might interpret from it. So while I love epic high fantasy tales and intricate, politically driven space opera, I’m also not afraid to shout my love of contemporary and historical romance novels with their happily ever afters. In embracing that love, I’ve learned a lot about how to create real, well-rounded relationships in my own storytelling.

Steel Victory
Steel Victory

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

It all boils down to time, doesn’t it? You can’t measure speed without it. Like everything else, time has a price. When you’re working full-time, writing at least one book a year, managing two blogs, and trying to maintain at least some semblance of health, time isn’t free. I had to learn that it’s okay to say no to things that might be “easy” on my end but would still cost me precious time. It can be frustrating and guilt-inducing, but the best thing possible for a creative’s mental and physical health is sometimes to NOT take every opportunity that comes along.

Steel Magic
Steel Magic

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I wish I was the sort of writer who could sit at a computer for hours on end and crank out the words. Instead, I’m a huge fan of the concept of “writing sprints.” Set a time for as little as 5 and as many as 30 minutes and write as fast as possible until the alarm blares. Then get up and do something else for a bit, preferable a task that does not include the computer. My best writing day ever was 3500 words. I also cleaned every window in my house.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Grover! Ironic, considering I’m not always a cheerful person.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy chocolate sprinkles on toast. Creamy peanut butter in cookies.
  • Favorite Sports Team? I married into a Brazilian family, and the World Cup is currently happening. I am legally obligated to answer with the Brazilian Men’s Football Team.
  • Cake or Pie? New York style cheesecake. Preferably one I made myself.
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime, as long as it’s in a caipirinha.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Queso
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Tawny 10-year port
  • Favorite Superhero? My husband
  • Steak Temperature? Medium-rare
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? M*A*S*H
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Summer!
  • Favorite Pet? I live with three amazing Siamese cats who definitely remember their species were once worshipped as gods.
  • Best Game Ever? Spinner
  • Coffee or Tea? All of the above, plus chai
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Both. At the same time.
J.L. Gribble Cats
J.L. Gribble Cats

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

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Rob’s Answer: To play for the Dallas Cowboys. To fly an X-Wing. To be a paladin of legend.

I’ve always been partial to fantasy.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

My schedule for the rest of 2018 includes Pittsburgh’s Confluence in at the end of July, Salt Lake City’s FanX Salt Lake and Washington DC’s Capclave in September, and Baltimore’s ChessieCon in November.

Do you have a creator biography?

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. She is also the film review editor for SpeculativeChic.com. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.

Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.

She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (www.jlgribble.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jlgribblewriter), and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits).

Steel Blood
Steel Blood

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

You should have asked when is your next book release?

People keep congratulating me on finishing my book trilogy. LITTLE DO THEY KNOW: Book 4 in the Steel Empires series, Steel Time, will be released September 2018 from Dog Star Books. Steel Time brings together the leading ladies from Steel Victory, Steel Magic, and Steel Blood as they encounter a literal race against time. The cover reveal is coming soon, so readers have plenty of time (haha, see what I did there?) to catch up on the three previous books!


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: 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

Interview: Rob Hobart

I first met Rob Hobart in the mid-90s when I was often going to gaming conventions. He was one of the best DMs around working with Living City and the RPGA.

He, along with Parvez Yusufji, gave me one of my favorite role-playing experiences ever. At a Weekend In Raven’s Bluff I hosted in Wichita mumblety years ago, they DMed a Cthulhu scenario using two parties of six, one on a boat, the other on a submarine, with each group only communicating by walkie-talkie.

We all died, of course. Cthulhu is like that. But man, that was fun.

What is your quest?

After many years working in the RPG hobby and industry, primarily for Call of Cthulhu and Legend of the Five Rings, I’ve decided to move on to writing fiction – which is actually what I intended to do back in my college days, before I got distracted by those pesky games. J I’ve recently self-published my novel The Sword of Amatsu, the first volume of an epic fantasy set in a samurai-themed world.

What is your favorite color?

I’ve always had a taste for adventure stories – whether fantasy, sci-fi, thrillers, or otherwise – that have more serious and sometimes tragic themes. This probably goes back to my lifetime interest in history, especially military history. Even in gaming, the RPGs I was drawn to most strongly were the ones rooted in history and that took danger, death, and Evil seriously.

On the other hand, I reject nihilism, and I don’t care much for the “subvert for the sake of subversion” trend that I see in a lot of recent storytelling, fantasy and otherwise. I write stories that incorporate tragedy and suffering, but that nonetheless seek to evoke heroism and virtue. Both of the five-year organized-play campaigns I created for Legend of the Five Rings were built around this duality of tragedy and heroism, and I am trying to do the same thing in my fiction.

Rob Hobart
Rob Hobart

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

For me, actually getting started writing is always the hardest part. I can tell stories in my head all day long, but forcing myself to just sit down and write them is often incredibly hard. During my time working on Legend of the Five Rings, it was usually the hard reality of deadlines that forced me to overcome this obstacle and actually get work done. As a self-published writer I still wrestle with this challenge, and have developed a variety of tricks – such as posting word-count updates on my FaceBook page – to try to create a sense of obligation that will keep me from procrastinating into oblivion.

In my early days of writing, during and right after college, my other big challenge was in writing characters who were markedly different from myself, especially female characters – like many young men of a nerdly persuasion, I was hapless at dating. I actually wrote two entire novels then which were unpublishable (though proving to myself that I could write entire novels was valuable) and the flat, shallow depictions of women and relationships in those books makes me cringe now. This weakness was partially solved by sheer practice, and partly by marrying and having a daughter.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I think my strength, when I’m writing at my best, is found in evoking a strong emotional response from the audience. The second Legend of the Five Rings organized play campaign I ran ended with a room of a hundred people crying and cheering, which was exactly the result I was hoping for. So far, if reader feedback is to be believed, I think I’ve managed to do the same with my fiction.

One of my touchstones in this regard is actually drawn from the (in)famous anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. That story as a whole was – at least in my view – a hideous evocation of cruelty, nihilism, and despair. But the “Asuka awakens” sequence in the final Evangelion movie, in which she regains her mojo, connects to her long-lost mother, and annihilates the invaders – all to the accompaniment of glorious, triumphant music – is a brief divergence into a different and infinitely better movie, one in which heroism and virtue would have redeemed the whole series. A lot of what I’ve written over the last fifteen years has been an attempt to create a story like the one that scene should have belonged to, and to evoke the emotional response that scene creates in first-time viewers.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? – The Skeksis
  • Crunchy or Creamy? – Creamy. (This question better be about peanut-butter…)
  • Favorite Sports Team? – St Louis Cardinals
  • Cake or Pie? — Pie
  • Lime or Lemon? — Lime
  • Favorite Chip Dip? – Queso
  • Wet or Dry? – Um…
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? – Two Steps From Hell
  • Whisky or Whiskey? – Yuck!
  • Favorite Superhero? – The Punisher
  • Steak Temperature? – Medium
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? – None. They were all terrible.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? – Spring
  • Favorite Pet? – Sweety, a mixed-breed dog I got when I was 9 years old.
  • Best Game Ever? – Legend of the Five Rings, of course!
  • Coffee or Tea? – Coffee
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? – Probably Fantasy, although I enjoy both

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

Biographical info:

Rob Hobart is a lifelong fan of fantasy, science-fiction, Japanese pop culture, role-playing games, and military history. He worked for eight years in the role-playing game industry, serving as line editor, co-designer, and eventual Lead Design of Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition. He lives in rural Missouri with his wife and daughter.

He may, or may not, also be the immortal 4th Earl of Buckinghamshire.


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.

 

 

LibertyCon 2018 AAR

I’m sitting at Prince Street Pizza in Gallatin, TN and I’m exhausted.

Which means my plan is proceeding apace.

I’m in Gallatin because I’ll be staying at Mark and Joy Wandrey’s place for a few days before going to InConjunction this weekend. I’m exhausted because LibertyCon is the best SF/F convention around.

The best part of LibertyCon is the amount of professional networking. I got to plan for new projects and learn from some of the best in the SF/F world. It’s changed my writing schedule a bit, and that’s a good thing. I’ll talk about that more as time goes by, but some of it is too ill-formed at the moment to really discuss yet. However, I’ve planted some seeds in Shijuren and other universes that should end up being very fruitful. I begin the AAR with the networking comments because those started on Thursday before anything else.

I’d like to especially thank Steve Jackson, Bill Fawcett, and Chuck Gannon for taking the time to answer questions and pass on some of the lessons they’ve learned. Great stuff for all of them, and they’re the biggest reason I’ll be adjusting my plans over the next year.

My first panel happened on Friday at 2pm. This panel discussed historical fiction and also history in fiction. It went very well because Louise Herring-Jones, David B. Coe, and I all had good experience with historical processes as well as fiction. We all had lots of good stuff to say. Coe, in particular, showed off why he was  a deserving guest of honor with his discussion about his Thieftaker Chronicles set in Revolutionary War-era Boston.

The rest of Friday involved getting this arranged for Jamie Ibson’s party, Opening Ceremonies, and my Author’s Alley stint. That all went smoothly, including a number of sales in the Alley, which can often be hit or miss. We held Jamie Ibson’s room party in my room to make life easier for Brandy, and it went well. I went to bed late.

Even though I fell asleep late, I was up and lively at the Four Horsemen Roundtable at 10am on Saturday. I had the new laptop set up and showed off some of the wiki, along with showing the author pages. I also edited and added a few Wiki pages live, much to the delight of the audience in a few cases.

Then was the banquet at noon. The banquet is always an interesting animal for me. I don’t usually get big sales or networking, but it’s always enjoyable. Chuck Gannon, by the way, was an amazing MC.

At 3pm I then had a reading. I used Chapter 7, which is the chapter including Olga Belobashnina Cherepanova. It’s actually a perfect section for reading, as it’s essentially an entire story arc on its own. It’s only about 15-18 minutes, which usually means I have more time, so I also read the Epilogue to Brief Is My Flame, which doesn’t really include spoilers, does include the riddle, and hints at what’s coming in None Call Me Mother. The reading went well, though there weren’t many people there. Unfortunately, a woman who heard my reading last year and wanted to hear this year’s showed up after I was done. I ended up giving her my reading copy of the text at the Kaffeeklatsch. Nice, very smart woman who I’m glad likes my stuff.

Anyway, then was my autograph session. That was not particularly well attended, at least not for me, but I got to do some more networking.

At that point, it was time to prepare for the Brief Is My Flame / Four Horsemen room party. I’d like to thank Jamie for helping and contributing, even though he had to be at a different party. Anyway, it was a huge blast. My new drink, the MAC Round, went very well. I sold a few books, made a number of new readers, and we had a great time. I got to sleep about 3.

Which meant the Kaffeeklatsch at 10am was damned early. I made it, but I was generally content to let people swirl around me.

Following that was the Upcoming in the Chris Kennedy Publishing panel. I was in that panel because I’ll have two follow-ups to “Where Enemies Sit” from For a Few Credits More. The first is a short story for the Lyon’s Den anthology that I’ve talked about a couple of times. The second is the full-length novel. I announced the working title of the novel, The Feeding of Sorrows, which, like “Where Enemies Sit,” is a line from the Havamal.

I just want to take a quick moment and thank Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey for letting me be a part of the 4HU and tagging along on their coattails.

Anyway, that was the last thing I had scheduled for the con itself. I went to closing ceremonies, entitled the Bitch at Brandy session where they actively solicit ways to improve LibertyCon. I have no doubt this is one reason this is the best-run convention going. The big announcement was next year’s LibertyCon will be at the Read House on 31 May – 2 June, which is about a month ahead of their traditional date. However, that means LibertyCon 2019 is only 11 months away.

Sunday night at LibertyCon includes a traditional trip to a Brazilian steakhouse and more socializing / networking, and then back to the hotel for the Dead Dog party. Last year at this party, I got to do a play-test of a game similar to Cards Against Humanity with Steve Jackson. This year, I got to play one of the newly released versions of the game, Conspiracy Theory, and even won a copy to bring home. It’s a hoot.

The only real problem with LibertyCon is that there’s so many cool people to talk to and only three days to do so.

Again, I’d like to compliment the staff of LibertyCon. I’m quite serious when I say it’s better run than any other con I’ve ever seen, and it’s not close. Brandy Spraker does a fantastic job organizing things. Rich Groller is the most on-the-ball programming guy around (by a wide margin). It’s actually kind of silly how quickly he responds to stuff. Matthew Fanny keeps track of memberships, and I was a bit of a jerk to him this year as our circumstances kept changing and I switched plans with my membership four or five times. He just took care of me, even though I wasn’t easy. Misty Kat Gutierrez-Walker had the game room thrown at her at essentially the last minute, but, as she has done in the past, kept things going.

This year had to have been hard on them. They didn’t know if they were going to have a site in 2018, so they basically did the normal work of a con in about 6 months, instead of a year. That also included adapting to a new site (the Marriott Downtown), which had very particular rules. A great hotel in many ways, but not necessarily great for LibertyCon. Anyway, they did it all and the only real issues I saw came from hotel weirdnesses (like not having stairs from floor 3 to floor 2 that did not go through “employee only” areas!?!?).

This is my fifth LibertyCon, and like all the others, I’ve come out with improved plans and greater goals. I’m definitely earning a place and a name in this business in great part because of this con.

So, I know where I’ll be the weekend after Memorial Day in 2019.

 

 

Rob’s Update: In Orbit at LibertyCon

Week 26 of 2018

Greetings all

Before I get into anything else, let me just say that Brief Is My Flame is now officially live on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Brief-My-Flame-Kreisens-2/dp/1946415049.

Here’s the blurb:

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…

Anyway, no need to worry about me because I am safely in orbit at LibertyCon in Chattanooga, TN. This is by far the best SF/F con I’ve ever seen. The people who run it are excellent, and the quality of the guests is fantastic. I’m honored to be a part of it.

However, while I made the trip successfully, my laptop did not. It was not unexpected, so I had budgeted for it. I’m now typing on an Acer Predator Helios that one review said was not full-featured enough to be a proper gaming computer and not cheap enough to fill that niche. Oddly, it fits my qualifications perfectly.

The only issue was that it took most of my day to go down to Atlanta and get it from Micro Center. They have a fairly wide choice of laptops, unlike most places, and there’s at least one in the KC area if I need servicing. Two hours each way, but that did mean I could have lunch with Duke Thomas, and that’s always fun.

However, I’m back in the hotel room getting ready to go out and see people. Here’s my LibertyCon schedule: http://www.libertycon.org/programming/pros2.php?pid=326

Gonna be a great time.

Current Playlist Song

My friend Bryan challenged me to listen to the entire Rush corpus in chronological order. Listening to Rush songs I haven’t listened to in a while is amazing. I always like them even more than I already did, and something new strikes me. The one yesterday was “Before and After” from the first album. Even then, they were something more.

Quote of the Week

Today is the 92nd birthday of Mel Brooks, one of my favorite film creators. Here’s a fantastic quote that we should remember more often in my opinion.

“Humor is just another defense against the universe.”
– Mel Brooks

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (2,007)
  • AFS (2,681)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s interview was with Chris Kennedy and you can find it here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1215. His Amazon page is here: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B00E4MIJA8/.

Today’s Weight: 386.8

Updated Word Count: Still have collected, but it’s around 160,000.

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 369 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: Chris Kennedy

Greetings all

This week’s interview is with Chris Kennedy, who has shown many of us how to be an independent writer. He’s written several series of his own, founded a publishing company that supports other independent authors, and, along with Mark Wandrey, started the Four Horsemen Universe of which I’ve contributed.

He’s taught me quite a bit already, and I suggest you listen to him and watch what he does.

Interview: Chris Kennedy

What is your quest?

I want to sell a million books. Failing that, I want to help my authors sell ten million books.

What is your favorite color?

Science fiction…with a side of fantasy.

Chris Kennedy
Chris Kennedy

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

Not coming from a writing background, I had to learn to do it right. I read blogs for 15 minutes a day for four years to help develop my craft and my ability to sell more books. I’m still not totally where I want to be, but I’m a much better writer than when I started, and I’m a lot closer to the goal.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I like writing gritty combat and a good motivational speech once in a while.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Animal.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Definitely crunchy. I don’t know why they make that other stuff.
  • Favorite Sports Team? UNC Tarheels basketball (despite their showing in the NCAAs last year), NY Yankees baseball, and Atlanta Falcons football.
  • Cake or Pie? Pie…but why can’t I have both?
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon…because you can put it in Corona and make it taste better.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Helluva Good Sour Cream and Onion
  • Wet or Dry? Sopping wet. (Rob’s Note: He’s a Navy guy)
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Two Steps from Hell. Outstanding for combat writing music.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Bud Light. (Rob’s Note: Sigh)
  • Favorite Superhero? Gal Gadot Wonder Woman. Because Gal Gadot.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall
  • Best Game Ever? In # of hours played? Everquest.
  • Coffee or Tea? Diet Pepsi
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Scifi, with a side of fantasy.

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

How many MAC rounds can a trooper survive?

Rob’s Answer: If we’re talking a magnetically accelerated piece of tungsten, then zero if the trooper isn’t in a CASPer. If we’re talking the fully-loaded magazine of MAC rounds we’re going to have at our LibertyCon party, I would say most can survive five or so, depending upon rate of fire and body mass. However, this survival is likely to be more painful and the target might prefer the quick death of tungsten.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

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

You should have asked, “Do you have any free book promotions coming up soon?”

Why yes, yes I do.

Both “Janissaries” and “Cartwright’s Cavaliers” will be free this weekend. Want to introduce someone to my writing or the 4HU? This is your chance to do it—get them to pick up a free copy this weekend!

You can find them here:


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: 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

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

Interview: Thaddeus Nowak

Thaddeus Nowak is another KC-area writer. He and I had tables near each other at Planet Comicon and we got a chance to chat with each other about writing philosophies and styles. You’ll find some similarities in the way we like to write.

Interview: Thaddeus Nowak

What is your quest?

To be a lumberjack? Or maybe to get funding for my walk?  Not decided yet.

Thaddeus Nowak
Thaddeus Nowak

As a writer, my aim has always been to write what I like to read and that tends toward realistic fantasy. I want a somewhat gritty world that has echoes of our own world’s conflicts and struggles mixed with a magic system that obeys balanced rules. I want to feel the character’s struggles and know they have to use their minds to overcome what they face.

Some of my favorite books include The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin, The Firekeeper Saga by Jane Lindskold, and many of the books by Barbara Hambly. In those series, the magic remained subdued, few people in the worlds mastered the power, and most did not fully understand how it worked. To me, that helped to keep the world in balance and forced the characters to be deeper and more well-rounded.

I do enjoy other genres, including scifi and urban / high fantasy. I even made a trip to England to buy the English copy of Harry Potter (okay, I was there for other reasons, but I bought the whole set and shipped it home when I was there).

A theme across all the genres I read is a desire for stories with strong female protagonists. I grew up in a neighborhood where my family had the only boys and all my friends at an early age were girls. That has greatly influenced what I like to read and write. The key here is to make the protagonist someone who makes decisions and who inspires others to follow her. I really get turned off by indecision.

What is your favorite color?

Heirs of Cothel
Heirs of Cothel

I like subtlety. I want to be nudged in the correct direction and allowed to make the connection before it is revealed—if it is ever fully revealed at all. It is a hard thing to do because you have no way of knowing just how much a reader does or does not know, and therefore, some hints might miss the mark. You don’t want to leave the reader wondering why something came out of seemingly nowhere, but you also don’t want to hit them over the head with facts that they feel are obvious.  The needed understanding must gradually show up as the story progresses.

I also love Easter Eggs. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline was a fun story filled with little bits of geekdom that simply resonated with me. I enjoyed both the book and the movie, and while that story was specifically about paying homage to countless parts of my childhood, I like other books that slide in one or two items for the geek in all of us.  It is a good way to share a common bond.

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

Failure is such a friend of mine. I remarked the other day that the best way to learn is to pound your head on the keyboard for a few hours until you find the very obvious mistake you made. Granted, that was in reference to some C# code I was working on, but the same applies to writing. Failure is the greatest of teachers, as long as you can step back and take a clinical look at why you failed and how you were able to overcome it. You cannot wallow in it, even if you want to.

Another challenge I continue to face is one of perfectionism. My first manuscript got eaten up the edit loop and bloomed into more than 200k words and was only a third of the way done. I made a few calls and put a hit out on my internal editor. It wasn’t cheap, but it helped.

Another change I made while the editor’s body was dragged off was that I moved from being a discovery writer to being more of an architect (just at a high-level outline). I won’t advocate one form over the other for anyone, but if you are struggling, try changing your writing style from one to the other. Give it an honest attempt and see if it works. When I did, I finished writing Mother’s Curse in two months.

 (Rob’s note: There’s one true way of writing, and it’s whatever helps *you* get words on the page. Thaddeus is absolutely right. If you’re stuck, change something. It could be your style, environment, chair, music, food, medium, whatever, just change something.) 

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I am excellent at counting to five—three.

When I moved to the architect style of writing, I found that I was able to very accurately judge the word count I wanted for a given scene. I would get a reasonably idea of what I wanted the scene to do from my outline and based on how I wanted the pacing to go (fast, slow, or in between) I would come up with an estimate on the number of words / pages it would take me to write the scene. When I plotted out Mother’s Curse, I was aiming for 100k words. The final word count came in at 96.5k and I was proud to have been so close (as well as under my estimate).

Another realization I had when writing my series is that when you have royalty or powerful people involved in the story, you suddenly have another major character to keep track of: the general populace. When a normal person does something publicly, few people will notice or care, but when a person of influence is seen in public, word will spread, and as a result, the citizens of the world will have a reaction, quite often a mixed one depending on their personal perspective. This means I had to calculate societies responses, how fast the information would travel, and look at the political agendas of everyone who would learn of any given event or statement.

 Lightning Round

Pip
Pip
  • Favorite Muppet? The old grumpy guys. (Rob’s note: Statler and Waldorf)
  • Crunchy or Creamy? No peanut butter for me.  Caramel instead.
  • Favorite Sports Team? Sporting KC
  • Cake or Pie? Tea and cake, not death.
  • Lime or Lemon? Mostly lemon, but lime on certain things.
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Don’t laugh, but I like sweet pickle relish on chips.
  • Wet or Dry? Wet.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? The Rogues (best pipe and drum music around)
  • Whisky or Whiskey? You want me to choose between the Scots and the Irish?
  • Favorite Superhero? Hard one. I’ll go with Hit Girl
  • Steak Temperature? Medium well
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Monty Python’s Flying Circus of course … though I watched more WKRP in Cincinnati
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall
  • Favorite Pet?  (Right now, Pip (named after Chiana in Farscape)
  • Best Game Ever? 1990, Risk, six people, New Year’s Eve
  • Coffee or Tea? Tea
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Fantasy

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

What is your favorite obscure event in history?

My Answer: The easy answer here is the Martin Koszta Affair which many of you have seen me discuss in panels at conventions. I had a to do a project in grad school based on the letterbook of the USS St. Louis during the time of the Koszta Affair and I became perhaps the world’s leading authority on this particular event. That’s not actually hyperbole, oddly enough.

However, I have so many other ones I could choose. I modeled Edward to an extent on Imma from Chapter XXII of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Imma gets knocked unconscious in a battle and wakes up in a pile of dead including his lord and all his brother warriors. He is sworn to die before the lord, which does not happen. However, he is limited in what he can do after the fact because of the oaths he has sworn as a Christian. I love when characters have competing oaths that cannot be reconciled.

In all honesty, I get curious about everything. There are too many fun and wonderful moments in history to limit myself to just one.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

Usually at Planet Comicon.  My schedule this year is light because of some local moves I am making.  Next year I plan to be back on the convention train.

Map of Cothel
Map of Cothel

Do you have a creator biography?

Thaddeus has always been interested in fantasy and science fiction. Early on, when just starting high school, his avid reading grew into a desire to write. A desire which has turned into a lifelong pursuit.

When not reading or writing, he enjoys hiking in the mountains, landscape photography, drawing, and spending time with his wife and two demanding cats.

He has degrees in Chemistry, Computer Information Systems, and Business Management and has held a handful of jobs: some in retail, some in healthcare, but primarily in the technology fields.

Thaddeus currently lives in Kansas with his wife and two cats, but wishes there were more mountains visible on the horizon.

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

What are your current and/or upcoming project?

Life events have delayed me about a year, but I am working on two different pieces. The first is another series set in the same world as The Heirs of Cothel Series, but with new characters living in the far north. I am borrowing bits from Norwegian and Scottish history and culture and the main character is living in an occupied country and she has to figure out what she wants to do about that.

The second item is an urban fantasy that involves a young woman who has been living off the grid with her parents deep in the Rocky Mountains. However, both of her parents die and she has to discover the modern world and why her parents isolated her from everyone.


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.

 

Interview: Jesse Oak Rise

Greetings all

This week’s interview is with Jesse Oak Rise, an author and videographer I met in Pittsburgh last year when I went to Confluence during the middle of Pennsic. I was struck in our conversations about how much they have studied technical details of making videos, something I know very little about and Jesse taught me about.

Interview: Jesse Oak Rise

What is your quest?

Presently I run a blog dealing with topics surrounding the trans and non-binary community, mental health, and Crohn’s Disease. In the future I have several plans for my YouTube channel, The Knighted Nerd, which are creating video reviews of trans related media as well as video game content through a trans perspective. This would include Let’s Plays of various games. Interviews with trans and non-binary community leaders. Hopefully gain interviews with politicians and political leaders. Attend trans and mental health related conferences and, hopefully, document them.

I wouldn’t say I have success. My influences, however, are as follows: Lyndsey Sickler, educator and advocate, among other things. Created and runs TransPride Pittsburgh. The late Nancy Evelyn Gold, who inspired me in the first place to learn Adobe Premiere Pro / Final Cut. Anthony Q. Artis, author of The Shut Up and Shoot Freelance Video Guide and The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide, Voice-Over Voice Actor: What It’s Like Behind the Mic by Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt, The Art of Voice Acting: The Craft and Business of Performing for Voiceover by James Alburger.

Also these YouTubers: Caleb Wojcik, creator of FIT Video Guy, DSLR Video Shooter, Lindsay Ellis, Chase Thomas, PushingUpRoses, MarzGurl, and, of course, Markiplier / Jacksepticeye

What is your favorite color?

I’m, by no means, a professional videographer, voice actor, or YouTuber. What I am is a person that has worn many hats.

No matter which of these you do or want to do the biggest lessons I’ve learned in all three are: Make sure your audio is on point. No $10 microphones. Go for a Blue Snowball or  Yeti. If you want to go XLR,  go for Rode Mic with a usb interface. Make sure you’re audio is shielded in some way, even if you have to build makeshift plywood walls to stick soundproofing on, it’s better than having anything under or over your voice.

Video, depending how you want to do it, look for either a quality web cam or a camcorder. If you got the bucks, look into getting a DSLR camera. Look into 3 or 4 point lighting. This will bring your video game up a notch.

If you’re going to do green screen, YouTube and your local library are your friend to learn. These are how I have learned everything I know now.

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

What do you mean? African or European paint brush?

The biggest challenge I have has plagued me all my life: money. I don’t have the funds to do the things I want to do the things I mentioned above, much to my dismay.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I’ve been taught all my life that I’ll never amount to anything. Over the last two and ½ decades I’ve learned that I have an innate ability to quickly learn almost any skill quickly. With this tool I know I could succeed at almost anything, if given the opportunity.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? The mahna mahna guy
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Both at once
  • Favorite Sports Team? What’s a sports?
  • Cake or Pie? Piecake
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon
  • Favorite Chip Dip? French onion
  • Wet or Dry? Yes.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Myself, Jesse Oak Rise.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Jagermister
  • Favorite Superhero? Deadpool
  • Steak Temperature? 650
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? All in the Family
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall, cause every day is Halloween
  • Favorite Pet?  Can I own Death as a pet?
  • Best Game Ever? Will it blend
  • Coffee or Tea? Tea
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Yes

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

Have you thought about adding authentic transgender characters in your writings?

My Answer: Thought about it, yes? Done it? No, because it’s never been relevant to the story I’m telling. Given that I write hack and slash, swords and sorcery action novels, I generally focus on whether my characters are strong, smart, fast, tough, or wise because those things matter in a fight. Rarely does plumbing of any type affect the outcome of a fight or a story, so I don’t talk about it much. 

If it ever matters to a story, I have no problem including transgender characters. However, I’m not going to throw one in simply to throw one in. I think that sort of thing is dishonest and disrespectful if the only reason to do so is to say, “Here, look at me, I put in a transgender character, aren’t I awesome!” If and when I put a transgender character into a story, it’s because the “transgender” part matters. Otherwise, transgender people are simply “people.”

It all boils down to what makes a good story. If a character being transgender makes a better story, I’ll make that happen in a heartbeat. If it doesn’t, I already try to strip everything I can in my writing that doesn’t push the story along.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

I can be found at

And where can we find you?

Currently I only attend Confluence in Pittsburgh, PA

Do you have a creator biography?

Presently on my blog, which needs work


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.