Category Archives: Aesc & Thorn Publishing

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

Rob’s Update: Spreading the Word

Week of 13-19 August

What an eventful week so far!

First, I’ve added those who signed up at Pennsic. Many thanks for all who talked to me there, and I am already looking forward to Pennsic 47. Welcome to my weekly slice of Robness.

The biggest news is that one of the short stories I’ve been mentioning for a while was just accepted to be part of the For a Few Credits More, the second anthology in the Four Horsemen Universe.

The 4HU is one where humanity is one of hundreds of alien races living a loose arrangement whose sole goal is to ensure that the overall peace is maintained. Within that, however, are all sorts of smaller conflicts involving mercenaries, and the universe centers around these mercs fighting in a Byzantine universe of plotting and treachery.

I love it.

You can find these books here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074KHFMQT?ref=series_rw_dp_labf

The cover is here.

FAFCM Cover
Cover for the Four Horsemen anthology For a Few Credits More.

I’ve never been more excited to be called “AND MORE” in my life.

But that’s not the only exciting thing going on here. Rob Saladino will begin recording A Lake Most Deep in audiobook form starting around 1 September. He’ll be doing my other Shijuren novels soon after, too. I don’t yet have any clue when actual release dates will be, because it takes time to do all of this well, but they are a-comin’.

In less productive news, because of my travel schedule, the move, and recovery from Pennsic, I’ve not done much other than lie in bed and contemplate bad things happening to my characters in Brief Is My Flame.

I’m just going to say that I think my characters would prefer me to sit and write than lie and plot, because I’m much nastier to them in the middle of the night snuggled in my bed with my cat sitting on my head than I am typing on my laptop. Far nastier.

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote sort of encapsulates my writing philosophy. I write about people, and whether they are wizards or use fusion-powered starships or wear powered armor, stories are about people.

“War has changed little in principle from the beginning of recorded history. The mechanized warfare of today is only an evolution of the time when men fought with clubs and stones, and its machines are as nothing without the men who invent them, man them and give them life. War is force- force to the utmost- force to make the enemy yield to our own will- to yield because they see their comrades killed and wounded- to yield because their own will to fight is broken. War is men against men. Mechanized war is still men against men, for machines are masses of inert metal without the men who control them- or destroy them.”
Ernest J. King, as quoted in the prologue (page viii) of his memoirs, Fleet Admiral King: A Naval Record (1952).

News and Works in Progress

  • Brief Is My Flame (about 10k)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Nothing yet this week, but will have some additions to the Wiki tomorrow

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s Spotlight is on Rob Saladino , who is recording my audiobooks. His IMDB page is here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5238545/ and his Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/thehumblereview. If you go there, you’ll see he recently recorded a biography about Prince. I suspect this is the closest I’ll ever get to Prince.

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

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

Rob’s Update: Tired Rob Is Tired

Week of 6-12 August

One of my favorite Pennsics ever comes to a close today.

The weather has been incredibly nice. Cool, with only a little rain, and yet still lots of cloud cover. The merchant booth has been profitable, productive, and fun. I’ve had a great time singing, and got to see some wonderful things given to fun people.

But at the end of two weeks, especially with packing in all sorts of stuff in the final few days, I must say I’m ready to be home.

It’s been so busy here that I’ve barely had time to write, so I’m only about 10000 words into Brief Is My Flame, but since that means more sales, I am quite pleased. I’m also pleased where the story lines are going. Yes, I’ve done more plotting than usual, but that doesn’t mean the plot is static.

As I did with Where Now the Rider, I’ll be steadily adding a few entries to the Wiki each week. I think these might be a little more revealing, though, as some of the new storylines are coming from different places. We’ll be exploring more of Svellheim, the Seven Kingdoms, the Western Isles, and the Kreisens, so we’ll all get to find out interesting stuff about those places as the plot takes me there.

I love Shijuren. It’s a fun and interesting world and there’s so much more to come.

Quote of the Week

One of my favorite aspects of Pennsic, and the SCA in general, is the opportunity to sing at bardic circles. This week’s quote comes from a Kipling poem which we have turned to song.

For we hold that in all disaster
Of shipwreck, storm, or sword,
A Man must stand by his Master
When once he has pledged his word.
– Song of the Red War Boat
, Rudyard Kipling

News and Works in Progress

  • Brief Is My Flame (About 10k)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

I watched Consortium of Genius perform at ConFluence. They were a lot of fun and surprisingly metal. Most bands at SF/F cons are acoustic in nature, but these guys played their music loud and hard. I had a blast, though I think some of the other people were a bit bemused. I especially enjoyed Think Tank and Middle-earth Needs Me.

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

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

We’re MADDDDDDD!

At many of the big SCA events like Pennsic, Gulf Wars, Great Western, and Estrella they pick one night, usually Wednesday, to have Midnight or Moonlight Madness with the vendors.

This is an eminently practical thing in many ways, as these events are filled with things to do during the day like fighting, fencing, archery, classes, and the making of many different items. Frankly, many people hardly have a chance to shop during the day, so we pick a day where every merchant is open until midnight and we offer a variety of specials.

On nights like last night it can be magical. It was cool, mostly clear, and the moon was almost full. About as lovely as a night can be, in my opinion. On such a night, thousands of people roam the merchant areas chatting, shopping, and generally having a good time.

As I say, magical.

As I have mentioned before, Master Andrixos graciously allows me to sell from his shop, Calontir Trim. Last year we had fun playing up the MADDDDDDD! of Midnight Madness. We had so much fun, we wanted to get even MADDDDDDDER.

So we did.

One of Andrixos’s personal traditions is that Midnight Madness actually begins when he puts on this hideous Hawaiian-print Byzantine-style tunic of the reign of King Ragnar Kamehamehason. It is embellished with a trim that has longships sailing in front of a island with palm trees. He’s been having fun with this running joke for over twenty years now.

This year, he requested that I provide a tunic of appropriate MADDDDDNESS to match, and he provided the shop girls with their own outfits as well.

This is the result:

Midnight Madness
The uniforms of Calontir Trim at Midnight Madness

So, last night we were especially MADDDDDD! at Midnight Madness.

I had a great time selling in my little section of the shop, as you can see here:

Midnight Madness Setup
My setup at Midnight Madness

It’s a lot of fun, I meet lots of people, and sell lots of books. What more can I hope for?

So, when you see me post something about impending MADDDDDNESS, now you know.

ConFluence AAR

Greetings all

This weekend I left Pennsic and went about 45 minutes south to ConFluence. It was a very busy weekend for me.

It started with panel about genre blending. Obviously, this provided me an opportunity to talk about the fun of adding mystery to swords and sorcery, as I do in the Edward series.

Following that was a reading. Again, I did the portion from I Am a Wondrous Thing. It went well, better than the last time I did it. I know I got some sales from it.

Friday evening was generally laid back. Much of my time was spent in the TV Gods: Summer Programming release party chatting with Lee Hillman, an editor of the TV Gods series and a friend of mine. It was a very enjoyable time, especially since they got a pack of various IPAs to share.

Saturday morning started with my signing session at 10am. At that hour, I didn’t expect much, but this was the most successful signing session I’ve ever had.

After that, I had a bit of a break until my next session. I spend much of that time trying to write. Not my best writing session, mostly because my mind kept wandering, but it wasn’t completely unproductive.

Starting at 2pm, I had three sessions in four hours. The first was perhaps the most intimidating for me, a discussion of exoplanets and how we can use them in our fiction. It was intimidating because everyone else on the panel were astrophysicists or geologists, except for the guy who was both a scientist and an artist. Then there’s me. Still, I held my own, because to a certain extent, the philosophy of things is always relevant, and I am a philosopher.

One fascinating thing came out of the discussion that I must mention. I do not generally like elves and dwarves and such in my worlds. For someone who writes fantasy, I don’t like magic to be, well, magical. I want everything grounded in a scientific basis. This, by the way, is why I was chosen for the panel in the first place.

However, one person at the end, and I’m sorry I didn’t get her name, pointed out that throughout the panel we’d been focused on the macro side of things, not the micro end. As often happens for me, the right thing said at the right time helps my mind make a jump and I finally have a justification for elves.

What if elves are the result of a micro-organism that causes a mutation? That makes sense to me, and maybe I’ll add them to Shijuren after all. I’ve already got some plans from interesting mutations that already exist in the human genome, but it’s nice to have more options.

I moderated my next panel. This one discussed writing in someone else’s sandbox. Since I’d like to turn Shijuren into a sandbox, I wanted very much to participate in this so I was happy to moderate the panel. I think the most important thing we decided was that all participants need to respect the sandbox and its contributors. People who just jump in without that interest and respect show up all too obviously.

At 5pm I participated in a whimsical panel where we created Vogon poetry. This year’s theme was the limerick, so we created a number of those. Yes, we had one that started, “There once was a Vogon from Nantucket.”

The one limerick I can remember off the top of my head went:

There was a Vogon named orange
Who gurgled one morning in purple
He heard a mime rail
About the slime trail
Amidst callipygian silver

I will say, it didn’t make my intestine want to strangle me, so I think we’ll need to do better.

Saturday evening I watched Consortium of Genius’s show. They were a lot of fun and surprisingly metal. Most bands at SF/F cons are acoustic in nature, but these guys played their music loud and hard. I had a blast, though I think some of the other people were a bit bemused. I especially enjoyed Think Tank and Middle-earth Needs Me.

I had met the lead singer and the bassist earlier in the day because we are all Rush fans. In the category of small worlds, I found out they are friends with Beth Waggoner Patterson, who I’ve met at other cons who is also a Rush fan. Had I not known ahead of time that the bassist was a Rush fan, I would have guessed after hearing his complex bass lines. Good stuff.

Sunday morning involved two sessions. The first at 10am discussed the Ten-Volume Trilogy. We all shared our own experiences with our worlds taking a life of their own. Yeah, that means lot of stuff to come in Shijuren.

The last thing I did at the con was a Kaffeeklatsch where I discussed the Martin Koszta Affair again and how I can use it to inspire fiction. I was shocked to have so many attendees, actually, as the way they set these up they were designed to be intimate discussions involving less than ten people. I believe I got a full dozen, who seemed to really enjoy what I did. I’ll keep doing this panel as long as people keep enjoying it.

After that I got back on the road to return to Pennsic as quickly as I could. I enjoyed ConFluence quite a bit, but I was ready to get back to the Middle Ages.

Rob’s Update: Pennsic’s First Week

Week of 30 July – 5 August

It’s been a wonderful first week of Pennsic. Part of that is the weather. It’s topped out at around 85, which is hotter than I like but is certainly not unbearable. In fact, it was so nice on Friday and Saturday that I got all of my setup and nesting done. Usually, the heat makes it a slower process and I still have work to do on Sunday.

My traditional Monday night bardic circle went very well. The first song started around 8:30 and I shut off the big torches at 3 or so. There was a good solid crowd of about 30-40 and we never stopped performing. That’s not shabby.

Monday was also Dad’s 77th birthday. I took a moment during the bardic circle to tell some stories about him.

I will freely admit that Tuesday was not my most active day, since I actually fell asleep around 5:30. I did come into the shop and arrange all of my stuff and lay all the electrical cables out. Tonight, we actually run all of the lights. Then I basically went and napped. I got up for dinner, but that was about it.

Yesterday, I got some serious work done. I’ve decided that the best way to write both Brief Is My Flame and None Call Me Mother is to focus on a single thread at a time. I wrote I Am a Wondrous Thing straight through, and I ended up re-arranging everything. This time I’m going to write a thread until I the returns diminish, then go off to another. Presumably, the next thread will inspire ideas in other threads, and eventually I’ll weave them together.

The first thread I’m working on is Eleonore in Demmen and Demmenkreisen. I’ve gotten a few thousand words written in that thread and its prompted my next thread, which will go through Svellheim.

Tomorrow, I’m off to ConFluence, where I have a busy weekend planned.

Friday 4pm: Genre Blending Panel
Friday 6pm: Reading
Saturday 10am: Autograph Session
Saturday 2pm: World Building with Exoplanets Panel
Saturday 4pm: Playing in Someone Else’s Sandbox Panel
Saturday 5pm: Vogon Poetry
Sunday 10am: The Ten Volume Trilogy
Sunday noon: The Martin Koszta Affair

It will be weird leaving Pennsic for this long, but it’s going to be a good time.

Quote of the Week

This weekend is the NFL Hall of Fame weekend where the 2017 enshrinees are inducted. This week’s quote comes from one my favorite players of all time, Dan Fouts. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1993.

“Now that I’m retired, I want to say that all defensive linemen are sissies.” – Dan Fouts

News and Works in Progress

  • Sent in a short story in for an anthology. I’m waiting for a response. Waiting is hard, that is all.
  • Several thousand words into Brief Is My Flame

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

One of the people I’ll meet this weekend as I’ll be on panels with him is William Keith, Jr. He’s written several military SF series, including some under the pen name of Ian Douglas. I’m a big fan of the Star Carrier series and the Heritage Trilogy. You can find his stuff at: https://www.amazon.com/Ian-Douglas/e/B001IGLZMC/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1501810168&sr=8-1

Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

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

Pennsic Plans

I leave for Pennsic on Wednesday. Yes it’s a bit early, but if I take my time on long trips I can also stop for writing.

This will be the third Pennsic (along with a Gulf and a half) that I will sell my books at Calontir Trim. Many thanks to Andrixos for giving me the space.

At this point, we kind of have an idea how things will be arranged and how things will go. I will have a table just big enough for my wooden display box and my laptop. I set my phone up as a wifi hotspot (as I’m doing right now at Brewbaker’s) and basically have full functionality.

I then spend from about 10am to 5pm in the shop, selling to whomever comes in, and writing when they’re not there. I got a huge chunk of Where Now the Rider written there last year, and I hope to get a ton of progress on Brief Is My Flame done this year.

This year will be a little funky, however, as I leave on Friday morning to go to Pittsburgh for a Confluence (http://parsec-sff.org/confluence/), coming back on Sunday night. I’ll be doing a full convention description and AAR while I’m sitting in Drix’s booth, actually.

In many ways, this is one of my most enjoyable and productive times. I’m sure it will seem odd to most of you who work a 9-5 kind of job, but having a designated time and place to go to work for a couple of weeks is actually quite enjoyable for me. I’ll freely admit I don’t want a permanent 9-5 schedule, but for stretches like this, it can be brilliant.

Plus, after working, I get to relax a bit and then enjoy some of the Pennsic fun with my friends. Pennsic may never be solely a vacation for me ever again, but that doesn’t mean I won’t have fun.

With that, I should do some writing. I know I owe you a full update, by the way, and I will do a combined two week one tomorrow.

Have a great day, everyone.

 

Rob’s Update: Empire of the Clouds

Week of 9-16 July

Greetings all

I treated myself to the Iron Maiden concert this past weekend. I put up a longer review on my blog, but for those who prefer the the TL:DR version, I loved it.

I’ve been focusing on a short story that has to go out the door by the end of the month. I will talk more about it when the draft is done, but I’m getting excited about it and its successors.

I’ve been throwing a few words here and there at Brief Is My Flame, mostly in the nature of plotting and ideas and less in terms of finished prose. Basically, by the time Pennsic comes around I need to have much of it laid out in my head, or even outlined on a page, which will make me much more productive. If I basically know what I’m writing about, the words come. If not, then I fight them. Shockingly, planning helps, even if those plans don’t survive meeting characters.

By the time Pennsic comes around, most of my house packing will be done. Things are progressing, though not as fast as I’d like in some areas. Still, I’m looking forward to getting settled at some point in the fall.

Quote of the Week

It has to be an Iron Maiden quote, right? So let’s do something from a song they didn’t do this weekend, Empire of the Clouds, which describes the R101 tragedy. More died in it than in the Hindenberg, but it’s far less remembered.

Here lie their dreams as I stand in the sun
On the ground where they built, and the engines did run
To the moon and the stars, now what have we done?
Oh, the dreamers may die, but the dreams live on
– Iron Maiden, Empire of the Clouds

News and Works in Progress

  • Short story for an anthology
  • Brief Is My Flame

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

I traded my books for Gray Rinehart’s CDs at LibertyCon and had a chance to listen to them on the way back. Very fun, which is to be expected when Dr. Demento plays your music.  Here’s his website: http://graymanwrites.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

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

LibertyCon AAR

I started this on July 4th, a perfect time to celebrate LibertyCon XXX. And celebrate we must. LibertyCon is the best-run science fiction and fantasy convention out there and I had a great time.

I arrived at the Chattanooga Choo Choo fairly early on Thursday, having broken the trip up in multiple sections thanks to friends who have offered me crash space. I knew I was going to push myself pretty hard during the weekend, so I did my best to ensure I was as fresh as possible after the drive.

The big event of the weekend for me was on Saturday, where I had a joint release party for Where Now the Rider and For a Fistful of Credits, the new Four Horsemen Universe Anthology. Thursday evening I did some pre-planning and moving of stuff around to figure out the best arrangement of beverages and food.

After I got pretty much all I could do done,  I went to ConSuite, which was not technically open but was still the gathering place. There I hung out with a few people and listened to Sarah Hoyt do a reading from a book that shall remain nameless. They say that traumatic events can cause selective amnesia. It was awful. All I can say is that it wasn’t written by anyone at the con. Oh, I can say one other thing. We laughed a lot.

Most of Friday was spent organizing stuff. I decided on the layout in the room and arranged things as best I could. I also went to the Opening Ceremonies and got reacquainted with old friends. I didn’t have panels on Friday, so mostly I lounged around during the afternoon.

My main thing on Friday was my stint on Author’s Alley from 8pm to 11pm. Basically, I moved all my books and set up in front of the rooms where panels were being held. I sold a few, while meeting a number of potential readers. It’s a lot of work, but it needs to be done, and in the long run it’s worth it.

After that I was tired but had enough energy to enjoy some room parties and hang out with some friends. I especially enjoyed hanging out by the pool with Aaron Mays, Jonny Minion, and a couple of others.

As I was getting a beer from my cooler, I ran into Sarah, Dan, and Robert Hoyt. It turns out that Roberts around the world like IPAs, so I got him one and we stood around chatting. It was my first time actually having a chance to chat with Sarah. Her at LibertyCon is like me at Pennsic, only with a much smaller site and a correspondingly higher chance to find another conversation.

Saturday was a really long day. At 11am I was part of a panel discussing various ways to get your plot unstuck and overcoming writer’s block. There are a ton of possible ways to do this, but it all boils down to finding what works for you. Whether it’s changing the environment, taking a shower, driving around, or something else, it’s the kind of thing that varies for everyone.

At 2pm was a panel I was very much excited to join: The Middle Ages as Inspiration for Epic and High Fantasy. Thanks to my grad school work, I anticipated I’d have lots to say, and I did. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and hope to do it again. I could have gone on for a while.

I then had several hours before my reading with Dave Schroeder at 6pm. There were a couple of very interesting panels to attend, but I chose wisely and took a bit of a nap, arranged my books and display for the party, and got as much prep done as possible.

I did not have time to create a 20-minute long reading from Where Now the Rider, so my reading at 6pm on Saturday was one from I Am a Wondrous Thing that I have done before. It’s a scene where Irina is convinced to give up the title of Velikomat and the immediate aftermath of her stepping down. It’s an emotional one for me, and I always cry when I read it. It’s a powerful section, and I get a pretty good response from those that listen. Dave read a bit from his new fantasy series, the Congruent Apprentice, which sounds interesting but which I’ve not yet read, and a small bit from his Xenotech Rising series, which I have read some of and really like.

The Four Horsemen Universe is a series of stories about humans discovering that interstellar mercenaries are their best export good. It’s a large sandbox created by Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey and many fantastic mil-sf authors are joining in. I am looking forward to reading these stories, just as much as I’ve enjoyed the novels in the universe. Oh, and I just might be working on a short story for the next anthology.

However, this party was to celebrate the release of their first anthology, as well as my newest book. The writers of the anthology brought all the food and I brought nearly all the beverages. As usual, I am coming home with about the same amount as I took out, but at least we didn’t run out of alcohol. Many thanks to Kacey Ezell, one of the contributors to the anthology, who also contributed her cooler to help organize the drinks.

Which is a good thing because we were packed. It was a great party and I sold a goodly number of books, as well as added to my mailing list. Basically, we went four solid hours with guests.

Around 12:30, the crowd dissipated, and with the help of Aaron and a few others we transported the leftovers over to the ConSuite and shut the party down. I was toast. So toast that it took a while for me to relax enough to get to sleep.

I was still tired Sunday, but I had expected that. I started the day at the Kaffeeklatsch. I had a great conversation with the Science Guest of Honor, Dr. Elisa Quintana and Dr. Tom Barclay, who is also a scientist. They study exoplanets and we discussed the most efficient ways we can get humans in space. Well, I asked questions and they taught me stuff, which was wonderful from my perspective.

Immediately after that was my turn at the signature table, where I joined Gray Rinehart and Charity Ayres. The signature table can be packed if a David Weber, David Drake, or John Ringo is sitting there, but for us was fairly quiet. I think we all sold a book or two, with signatures, but mostly the three of us had a great conversation.

One of the joys of LibertyCon is comparing notes with other professionals, because there is such a high percentage of professionals to fans. LibertyCon caps its attendance at 750, and over 150 attendees are professional writers, artists, scientists, or something else relevant. Also, I would bet that a large number of the remainder are people like me at my first LibertyCon, those who want to become professionals. It’s a great chance for us all to learn, and over the years I’ve learned a ton.

Anyway, my last panel of the weekend was Cooking Out of this World. This panel went off the rails. At least we were funny, but we were all a little tired and we strayed from the topic early and often. Todd McCaffrey did ask one interesting question that we talked about a bit but not enough, and that’s what are the environmental factors that will affect the way things taste in space? Obviously, things taste differently on airplanes, which is something airlines are already dealing with, but will be an issue for interplanetary and interstellar travel.

The last session of LibertyCon is the Bitch at Brandy session. Brandy Spraker is the chairman of the con, and she does a fantastic job. The closing ceremonies each year are a chance for people to suggest things that could be improved. Once everyone has had their chance to make comments, good and bad, about the con, she officially closes the con. They take these suggestions seriously, too, and I have seen some implemented in the four years I’ve gone.

Much of the rest of Sunday involved me finishing cleaning up after the party and doing most of my packing. I have learned that I want to stay  overnight on Sunday and leave Monday morning, but I basically pack everything but Monday’s clothes and shower stuff.

I got that done in time to join about 35 of us at a Brazilian steakhouse. I had the fortune of sitting next to a few people I knew, but had never really talked with, including Miriam Ringo, the wife of one of the best mil-sf writers around, John Ringo. What a fun and generous person she is. She had a bracelet on that I admired and thought Giulia would also like. Miriam immediately removed it and handed to me as a gift. By this point were about 3 minutes into our conversation. I was stunned by her generosity then, and still find it amazing and admirable now. Then we had a long and wonderful conversation.

Actually, everyone at dinner had a great time. It has been decided that this will be a LibertyCon Sunday evening tradition.

Following dinner was something that is already a LibertyCon tradition, the Dead Dog party. Basically, those who stay on Sunday evening eat drink as much of the leftovers as possible and play games or hang out.

Again, I had some incredible good fortune. Steve Jackson, of Steve Jackson Games, the inventor of Munchkin and a bunch of other great games, was playtesting some games and I got to join in. Steve is a wonderful and fun guy, and the rest of us had a blast tossing out ideas and picking them apart.

Getting to toss out suggestions on games, even bad ones, to a legend like Steve Jackson is definitely a highlight for me.

Around 12:30, we called it a night, and therefore the end of the con. I went to bed and left for a fairly smooth drive back. The only real excitement was seeing a collision about a half-mile ahead of me in the oncoming lane. The truck driver did a great job and controlled his 18-wheeler in the median so our lane never had to worry.

As I’ve mentioned, LibertyCon is a different beast from other cons. I will be going back there every year, though there’s some question as to when and where the next one will be.

For the four years I’ve attended, it has been at the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel, but the hotel has sold off about 80% of its rooms to make apartments / condos. Basically, while the convention space is fine, there are only rooms for about 20% of the con goers. This means many are off in the Marriott, which is not far but still puts a crimp in the con experience. Part of the fun of cons is going to room parties which are elsewhere in the hotel. Have fun, drink a few beverages, and then trundle to your room. No travel logistics to speak of. Even free shuttle buses are not a great solution, though of course those were provided.

In short, the Choo Choo simply cannot work anymore. Unfortunately, convention sites are notoriously difficult to find at times, and Brandy and her folks are casting about for a solution. I heard a rumor that a new convention hotel is getting built in Chattanooga, but will not be fully ready by summer 2018. I’m not sure if that’s true, but while they aren’t at all sure of time and place next year, or even if they might take a year off, they all seemed confident that things would be fine by 2019.

Whatever they come up with, I’ll be back.

Rob’s Update: Drawn Like Moths

Week of 18 June – 1 July

Greetings all

It’s been a weird week here (I suppose I should say a normal week for my current norm). I apologize for not getting last week’s email out on time, but I’m going to just take advantage of the delay to do this post for both weeks.

I returned last Sunday night from Salina Comicon. I had almost no expectation of any kind of success there because it was the first one and Salina is not particularly large. I went because I had a free place to stay and it’s not far away, so expenses would be relatively low. However, the con was much better attended than anticipated and I sold far more than I hoped. It was also pretty well run, with things going smoothly throughout. I’m likely to be back, depending on schedules.

Next week is, of course, LibertyCon. I’m really excited. I have quite a schedule, thanks to the hard work of the LibertyCon staff. I’ve been to about 20-30 different cons now, and I can say without a doubt that Brandy and her staff at LibertyCon are the best con staff around. I have waited months for responses from many cons. Rich Groller responds in 30 minutes, even if I send an email at 11pm his time. Amazing job.

They cap LibertyCon at 750 attendees. And they sell most of the next year out before the weekend’s over. I’ll be buying my 2018 membership before I leave Chattanooga a week from tomorrow. The light at LibertyCon draws me in like a moth every year.

Anyway, enough gushing, what’s my schedule this year, you ask? Here’s my page on the LibertyCon website: http://libertycon.org/index.php/pros?pid=326&refer=1, but here’s a summation.

Friday
8pm – 11pm, Author’s Alley. Buy my books and I’ll sign them, of course rolling on the Wandering Signature Chart.

Saturday
11am, Overcoming Writer’s Block
2pm, The Middle Ages as Inspiration for Epic and High Fantasy
6pm, Reading
9pm, Joint Release Party with the Four Horsemen Universe guys

Sunday
10am, Kaffeeklatsch
11am, Autograph session
2pm, Cooking Out of this World

As you can see, Sunday night I’m going to be one tired puppy. This is why I pay for an extra night and drive back on Monday. Also, I get to hang out at the Dead Dog Party, which is always fun.

Hope to see many of you there. Gonna be a lot of fun.

Quote of the Week

This week, three capybara babies at a Toronto zoo have been named Alex, Neil, and Geddy. They chose the names of the members of Rush by creating an internet poll, and apparently people from across the world voted in the contest. I daresay that those who voted from places such as Argentina, South Africa, and Olathe, KS were probably Rush fans.

Not that I need an excuse to use a Rush quote, it seems too fun not to take advantage of the opportunity. The zoo in question is in not really in one of Toronto’s subdivisions, but Toronto is a city that draws people in. Now with extra Rush-named capybaras!

Drawn like moths we drift into the city
The timeless old attraction
Cruising for the action
Lit up like a firefly
Just to feel the living night

– Rush, Subdivisions

News and Works in Progress

  • Short stories, but not much progress because of packing

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Again, not much, but I’ll do some posting from LibertyCon


Upcoming Events

Spotlight

One of the people I am looking forward to spending time with this week is Chris Kennedy, who is an impressive guy along with being a fun writer to read. You can find his work at: https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Kennedy/e/B00E4MIJA8/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1498574841&sr=8-2-ent
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Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

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

Rob’s Update: Leaving Port

Week of 11-17 June

Greetings all

I apologize this is a little late this week. I shoot for Wednesday every week, but clearly that doesn’t always happen. This week it’s because my life is discombobulated. It is likely to get less combobulated before getting more. Much of that is because of lots of traveling. I leave for Salina in a few hours to take part in their Comicon. I don’t expect it to be huge, but I have lots of friends there. In two weeks, I’ll be at LibertyCon, which promises to be hugely busy and a lot of fun. Then Calontir Coronation. Then Pennsic. Then the fall.

Some of the discombobulation is because of an accident we had at the house a couple of weeks ago. It’s nothing huge, but it involves a lot of doing stuff. My house insurance was paid up, so I’ll actually do fine money-wise, but it’s just extra work and part of the house is awaiting repair. While that’s happening, I’m packing to move. Things will be nicer in a week or so, as I’ll have a POD container take a bunch of stuff and get it out of my hair.

So I haven’t been terribly productive this week. I worked on a couple of short stories I want to have finished by LibertyCon. That’s about it, writing-wise.

I’ve also started revamping my website. Part of this is doing some research into the most effective things I can do on a website. If you have ideas of what you like to see, and what you don’t, please send me an email at  rob@robhowell.org.

Despite all of this, I expect to have made a ton of progress on Brief Is My Flame by the end of Pennsic, which is about 2 months away. I have a lot of driving to do, which is convenient idea-generation time. The voice recorder on my phone is excellent, especially in my car where it’s Bluetooth connected.

Have a great week everyone.

Quote of the Week

I was looking up stuff about Admiral Grace Hopper recently. She was a hero to me because both my parents were involved in computers essentially all my life, and I thought it cool that this US Navy admiral was involved in computers too. What a fascinating, smart, tough, impressive woman she was.

Anyway, she didn’t actually coin this, but it was something she quoted often. In this time of discombobulation, it bears repeating.

“A ship in port is safe; but that is not what ships are built for. Sail out to sea and do new things.”

– John Augustus Shedd

News and Works in Progress

  • Several short stories
  • Brief Is My Flame

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Nothing this week. My apologies.

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

As we roll towards my fourth LibertyCon, I’m going to spotlight people I’ve met there. LibertyCon advertises that it is as much of a family as it is a con, and I have absolutely found that to be true. These last few years, many people there have taken the time to help me along the process, for which I am eternally grateful.

I’ll start with Jason Cordova, who helped me with blurbs, introduced me to people, shared beverages, and helped my find my audiobook reader (yes, those are coming, recording starting in August or September). I really enjoyed his book Wraithkin and am waiting for the sequel. He also writes excellent Kaiju-fiction. You can find him at: https://www.amazon.com/Jason-Cordova/e/B004CZHHPU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1497634523&sr=8-1
Let me know if you have any suggestions on the website, this email, or cool story ideas at rob@robhowell.org. Especially let me know of suggestions you have for the Spotlight section.

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

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