Category Archives: Personal

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

Rob’s Update: One More Day

Week of 4-10 June

Greetings all

A Lake Most Deep is FREE on Amazon for one more day. If you’ve wanted to suggest the Edward series to anyone now is the time to do it. On Saturday, it returns to its normal $3.99 price.

One more day means much more than that to me, though. Jason Garrett, coach of the Dallas Cowboys, talks all the time about stacking good days. Do good work today. Then tomorrow, do more good work. Then the day after. Pretty soon, you’ve made great progress.

He’s right, and this is a business where that’s needed. You don’t get novels written in a week of good days, at least I can’t. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that I struggle with. This week has especially been a challenge. There was a bit of a catastrophe at my house a week or so ago. It’s nothing huge, and insurance is doing its job. I’d like to say right now that Nationwide has been awesome. Anyway, while nothing difficult, and will oddly end up being a good thing for the house, it takes time and energy, and has distracted me some from my work.Hence, I’ve done little but behind the scenes stuff all week.

The good news is that weeks like this often mean my mind starts bubbling with ideas, and that’s happened. I was in the shower the other day and I realized exactly how I will kill off a very important character. It won’t happen in the next book, or probably even in the book after that. However, there will come a time when that character will die in a certain way.

That’s always a satisfying feeling, actually. Oh, I cry every time I kill off a character I like, and I’ll cry when I kill this one off, but now I know the character’s entire story arc. I have a bunch of details to fill in between now and then, but the character has carved out his or her place in my world. One of these days, this character will have served its purpose, and I am happy to say its an important purpose.

Now I just have to keep stacking days, type out the hundreds of thousands of words between now and when that character meets its fate.

One last thing to mention. I was a guest on last Sunday’s Write Pack Radio discussion of Plutarch and writing non-fiction. I’ll be on again this upcoming Sunday where we discuss working with an editor. You can find them at:

Quote of the Week

The catastrophe basically involved water overflowing. Hence, this quote from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, one of my favorite poets, seems apt.

I first learned this poem, by the way, by listening to Rush. I learned another Coleridge poem from Iron Maiden, and I think I was the only person in 8th grade who really enjoyed going through the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Anyway…

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan

News and Works in Progress

  • Not much to report this week in terms of new fiction.
  • Started working on revamping my website.

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

Right about now, three friends of mine are flying to France so they can walk about 500 miles of the Camino Real to Santiago de Compostela. This is a pilgrimage that I’d like to take someday. In 2012, I walked about 100 miles of the Offa’s Dyke trail, and I will say that long distance walks are awesome, even if exhausting and tough. If you go to http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=248, you’ll find the first of my blog posts about that trip. I enjoy reading through that quite a bit.

However, this is a spotlight section, so I’ll point the spotlight at Heather Dale, who has provided a theme song for all pilgrimages at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ww_lVS2P9cM. You can find the rest of her stuff, which is brilliant, at: http://heatherdale.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

Weekend Doings

Greetings all

Been a busy weekend here in Rob-ville, though much of the work was done weeks ago.

First, Where Now the Rider is live on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Where-Rider-Adventures-Edward-Book-ebook/dp/B071462WXM/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

In honor of the release of Where Now the Rider, the e-book version of A Lake Most Deep is free on Amazon starting tomorrow and running all week long. If you have been wanting to tell your friends about my books, now’s the perfect time.

If you want to hear about my writing philosophies, you can check out Write Pack Radio today.  This week’s podcast talks about Plutarch and Writing Non-Fiction.

I’ll also be featured next week when we talk about working with an editor.

For me, I’ve spent this weekend packing and plotting several things.

Plot. Plot. Plot.

Bwa ha, bwa ha ha.

Weekend Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This episode should air on Sunday, 11 June.

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

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

Thoughts on Language

I’m building the appendices today for Where Now the Rider and I thought I’d post my philosophies about language in a fantasy world.

I’ve given more philosophical thought to this sort of thing than I probably should. In fact, I have struggled in the past to write science fiction or fantasy because they would have a completely different language. English in 100 years won’t be the same, and in 2-300 years may be almost incomprehensible. Languages are like that.

Therefore I should, like Tolkien, create a series of languages. Of course, how do I find an audience when I’m expecting them to learn a series of languages. A tree, for example, wouldn’t be “tree” in another language. Not to mention a pine tree. And a Scotch pine, of course, can’t exist unless there’s a Scotland to refer to. How can anyone even write a fantasy world when all of this needs to be changed?

Of course, we all accept the fiction that people in that world know English. That they have essentially the same language. And, for that matter, that they’re human in the first place.

Still, I think it’s important for a fantasy world to use a some strange words. It is a fantasy world after all, and the language has to match. In my case, since I’m writing medieval fantasy, I’m also bound to using words that fit into the milieu and aren’t too modern.

Once I accept the obvious, there’s a corollary that becomes useful. If I have to accept English as the language for my audience, and I do, and if I have to accept that humans are the best base of a fantasy world, and I do, then I can also accept the use of real-world cultures and languages that aren’t English.

No, I’m not wayyyyy too philosophical, why do you ask?

The answer, by the way, is that if I don’t believe in Shijuren, then how can I ask readers to believe. If I can come up with a philosophical justification for the shortcuts I’ve taken, then it works for me. Which I have and it does.

Anyway….

All of what I just said is important because it shapes how I use language in Shijuren. I look to other languages and adapt words and phrases to suit what I need. For example, majea is pretty clearly a cognate of magic, and I derive it from Ancient Greek. It is handy because when I use it to refer to magic I’m not asking for the reader to stretch to much.

In the same way, when I built the prefixes that apply to majea, I used things that can make sense for those who think about it. Love magic uses “er” as the prefix, from Eros. Land magic, “ge,” as in geology. Yes, I know “geo” is the proper prefix, but that extra syllable doesn’t sound as good. Life magic, “zo,” as in zoology, again cutting a syllable. Line magic, “sym,” as in symbols. And Lore magic uses “cli,” which derives from Clio, the muse of history.

I doubt many readers have caught on to this particular trick, but let me tell you it helps me a ton when my brain is fuzzy and I’m trying to remember just the word to use.

Kurios, by the way, and kurioi, is also Greek-derived, basically for people who are curious. Hence, magicians. Hence erkurios and so on.

For me, just creating these names has also helped lock these different magics in my head. I know what I’m trying to do with them, both what they can allow and what they can’t allow. The limitations to magic, of course, being very important to me.

Anyway, back to language. I use a large number of foreign-derived words. I also use a large number of simple foreign words. For example, “krieger” is German for “warrior.” What better way to say, in one world, “a warrior from the Kreisens?”

Using traditional names of dishes for food is especially important to me. As some have said to me, it’s nice that they’re not always eating a stew. Shchi, cevapi in somun, or shopska is far more interesting to me. Goulash might be easier, but gulyas (the traditional name) is much more fun to me.

Again, I don’t expect or require every reader to examine the hidden depths in the words. Just like in Middlearth, I didn’t have to know Quenya or Sindarin to grasp the bulk of what a word in either language meant, but I guarantee that Tolkien hid etymology that helped him into each word.

This is also true for names and places. In some cases, I’ve used actual names, like Biljana’s Springs (http://wikimapia.org/20513379/Biljana-s-Springs). Achrida is, of course, the ancient name of Ohrid, the city in Macedonia. If you look at pictures of it, you’ll have a better idea of what Achrida looks like, by the way. Also, the Mrnjavcevic and Gropa families existed in the Balkans. They’ve provided all sorts of inspiration for me.

Most of the names, though, I pick from the list at Behind the Names, a fantastic website. Naming patterns vary from culture to culture of course, and this site helps me remain consistent within the various cultures. It also allows me to break the pattern when I wish. For example, Croatian and Bosnian form the bulk of the names in Achrida. Lezh is Albanian, which makes sense if you know that Ohrid is across the lake from Albania. For people from Basilopolis I’ve chosen to go with Greek and Byzantine names.  Since I’m lifting the history of Rome and Constantinople, it’ll come as no surprise that Roman naming conventions predominate in Sabinian Province, the base of the Old Empire from which the Empire of Makhaira is born. However, given that I’ve made Achrida a major trading city, I’ve also tossed in a variety of other names. Turkish, for example. Sub-Saharan Africa contributes Mataran names, which we see periodically in Achrida, as in the case of Chinwe, one of the victims in Where Now the Rider.

There are a few exceptions, and those are names I made up because of some particular reason or reference that makes me smile or those that Adam Hale made up while making the map.

And this is all to the good. Language should be a messy thing. Names should have a variety of things. Even when I’ve chosen to simply a language thing, like names of magic and the calendar, I’ve added a layer, like using Old English to make the calendar.

It’s a balance, and I’ll admit I possibly go too far, but I’m trying to create a world that is deep and rich, a sandbox to let me write a number of different stories. I don’t know how I can do that without playing with language.

Planet Comicon AAR

Greetings all

I’m mostly recovered from a great weekend at KC Planet Comicon. It’s an exhausting weekend, of course, but it’s a great chance to meet people and see all sorts of cool stuff.

The con does a number of things well. First, they’re not overpriced. It *is* possible for Artist Alley types to break even and make money. There are lots of cons where that’s not the case. I like the time we have to set up. The big vendors and exhibits can start setting up on Wednesday. I personally went in early on Thursday. The con actually starts on Friday at noon, and smaller vendors like myself can even set up on Friday morning, if needed. Also, I like that they had so many volunteers and they did a good job of making those volunteers available to us.

The only truly bad experience I had was the parking, and I was fortunate. Parking around Bartle Hall is tough, and I’m happy to pay $75 for one of the dock spots. I parked on the West Dock, which is really convenient for me. The problem was their system of purchasing. When I got there Thursday morning, I was told specifically that if I wanted a West Dock spot they would go on sale at 5pm. Fair enough. Except they went on sale earlier than that. I got mine at 4:30pm, and I think mine was the last one. I bet there were a number of livid people who followed the rules and got screwed. I know I almost was. I passed that upchannel because that’s an awful yet avoidable customer fail.

Comicon was bigger than ever, I think. I know I spent an hour before hand on Saturday walking around and I did not see it all. Food choices were also better than ever. They didn’t simply have the normal hot dog and nacho choices, but several food trucks parked in one end. Also, there was a service that would deliver food to our booths for vendors, however, they only offered carb-heavy choices so I didn’t have anything. I almost tempted Giulia into the 96-ounce Roasterie coffee, though.

They also offered a number of perks to those with exhibitor badges. Apparently, they also worked as fast pass badges in lines for celebrities or food. In general, I would have to say Planet Comicons are great for vendors.

I had a goodly amount of traffic throughout the weekend. Friday afternoon was slow, but that’s to be expected. Saturday and Sunday were hopping, though, and I got lots of names for my mailing list as well as enough sales to break even. More than good enough.

My aisle also benefited from having Timothy Zahn across from me. He was very gracious and patient. I actually brought my first edition Blackcollar and Backlash Mission books which Dad bought used a loooong time ago. He enjoyed seeing the copies, and we both had a chuckle at the combined $3.50 Dad paid for those. I also got a chance to reminisce about the Green Dragon, which was such an important place for me growing up.

I tried something new this year. Last year, a number of people admired my cover art so I printed off 12 each 8x10s of the covers from A Lake Most Deep, The Eyes of a Doll, and Where Now the Rider. As a side note, I ordered Monday night, they were shipped on Tuesday, and I got them on Wednesday. MPix did a great job. Anyway, I only sold 3 prints, though I gave away another to a good customer.

I think I marketed them incorrectly. First, I think people would have paid more than $12 if they were larger, like 11×17. Second, I offered the same kind of deal as I do with my books: Buy one, get a discounted price for any others. I think a better way to market them will be $12, $9 if you show me your Kindle where you purchased one of my ebooks. That could be a good way to offer the 8x10s. I’m still contemplating the postcard idea, but this will do for now, I think.

I really wish I had had Where Now the Rider done. Selling a set of 3 would have been a great option for me. It’ll be there next time, though and I’m discovering that books happen on their own schedule, to a certain extent.

My other regret is not getting on panels again this year. Totally slipped my mind. I’ll not let that happen next year.

All in all, though, it was a great weekend and I look forward to doing it again next year.

 

Rob’s Update: Watching the Zamboni

Week of 16-22 April

Greetings all

Been a great week here. Productive, with nice weather. I even did my first threshing of my lawn.

I’ll admit it, I’m not the greatest groundskeeper around. I mow the lawn so the city doesn’t fine me, and that’s about it. I do keep adding mulch around the side of the house, but that’s just to protect the foundation. I don’t particularly care for gardening, though I do appreciate fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.

Oddly though, I do enjoy mowing the lawn. It’s good exercise, so I count it as my walk for the day. I like it when I can knock two things off my list at once.

But it’s the creating order out of disorder thing I really like. The exact same reason I love watching a Zamboni between periods. Chewed up ice becomes glossy and perfect. Very soothing to my soul.

By the way, let’s go Blues

Quote of the Week
“There are three things in life that people like to stare at: a flowing stream, a crackling fire, and a Zamboni clearing the ice.”

– Charlie Brown

And here it is in YouTube if you want to see him say it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCvJ6VfybBw

News and Works in Progress
  • Where Now the Rider will be done this weekend.
Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions
Upcoming Events
Spotlight
Today, the spotlight isn’t on a vendor, but on a friend of mine, Brandy Andrews, who is retiring from the Army tomorrow as a Lt. Colonel. Congratulations and thanks for your service, Brandy.

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

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

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

Rob’s Update: The Other Half Is Physical

Week of 2-8 April

Greetings all

The memorial this weekend went very well. I figured out what to say, and you can find it on this blog post: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=582. We had enough food and drink for everyone (more than enough, I literally came home with 3 boatloads of ribs). Mom’s display of his things and pictures was excellent. And several people got up and told stories, including one that I don’t remember where I jumped out a window when I was 3.

As promised, I did very little on Monday but watch baseball. Unfortunately, the Rangers lost, but that’s baseball. A very wise philosopher once said “you win some, you lose some, and sometimes it rains.”

I’m getting the itch to revamp my personal website. I suspect that might happen right after I send off Where Now the Rider. Though I said I’m putting it away for a week, I didn’t really, and I’ve been editing here and there. In some ways, the editing process has been nice. I wrote too many words in the original draft, so cutting scenes out hasn’t really been a problem. This makes up slightly for hunting down every problem with timing and location created by shuffling chapters around. I’m changing how I write to make this less of a problem in the future, by the way.

I did do some work on Brief Is My Flame and None Call Me Mother. Basically, I wrote the opening scene of BIMF and planned what I want to happen with many of the major characters at the end of NCMM. It’s likely not all that will actually happen, but that makes it easier for a lot of the writing.

Over the weekend, I started planning for a trip to North Carolina with my mom. While this is prompted to let mom go visit my aunts, I will time it so I can go to a couple of things. It’s looking like I’ll be at Atlantia’s War of the Wings and HonorCon in late October, but both are tentative at this point as I’ve just started making arrangements.

This upcoming weekend is Calontir’s Crown Tournament. I’ll be there live-blogging the tournament on Facebook, as usual. I don’t plan on setting up a table, but I’ll have books there. We’ll see. I might get sales, I might not, it’s hard to say.

Anyway, that’s it for now.

Quote of the Week

You get another baseball quote this week. Don’t worry, I’ll not run out of them. I’ve got plenty.

This quote comes from one of the world’s great aphorists: Yogi Berra.

I find this quote apt for writing. So much of writing is just doing, but that doesn’t change the thinking part.

“Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.

– Yogi Berra

News and Works in Progress

  • Where Now the Rider: editing and eliminating plot holes
  • Brief is My Flame: initial scene, a debriefing to Ivan Yevgenich of what happened in I Am a Wondrous Thing
  • None Call Me Mother: laid out the end game for many of the characters, now I just have to figure out how to get them all there
Upcoming Events
Spotlight

I met Susanne Lambdin in a dealer’s room where we didn’t have many people circulating but we had whimsy. Mine was by far the best paper airplane design, as she’ll readily admit.

She just released a new book starting a new fantasy series to go with her zombie series. Her website is http://www.susannelambdin.com/ and you can find her author page here: https://www.amazon.com/Susanne-L.-Lambdin/e/B00EYNT4OW/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1491413106&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

And Your Old Men Shall Dream Dreams

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

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

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

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

Anyway, the poem I chose was this one:

And Your Old Men Shall Dream Dreams

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

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

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

Rob’s Update: Waiting for Spring

Week of 26 March – 1 April

Greetings all

Saturday will be the memorial for my dad. Yes, April 1st. Given his love for dad jokes, it seemed appropriate. Besides, it was a day the church had open. I’ll be saying something. Not sure what something yet. What does one say, really? I can figure out that Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch is probably inappropriate. As is just about anything from the Holy Grail. Beyond that? I’m sure I’ll come up with something, but I may not even know until I’m standing up there.

Glad the SCA has given me a lot of experience talking in front of people.

It’s been a productive week. Where Now the Rider is at the stage where I’m going through and inserting clues and red herrings so there’s a proper trail of bread crumbs. The goal, of course, is for you to have the possibility to figure out the villain, but make it very difficult.

My editor can take it at the end of April, so I’m going to finish a draft next week, take a break for a week or so, then polish it for a week before sending it to Kellie.

What I’ve done since I’ve taken my foot off that pedal is to start seriously plotting books 2 & 3 of the Kreisens series, the series that started with I Am a Wondrous Thing. The working titles will be Brief is My Flame and None Call Me Mother. These are working titles and might change, but I like them, especially with some of the tribulations Irina and Eleonore are going to face. I’m plotting both of them, by the way, because when writing I Am a Wondrous Thing I sort of floundered about in terms of pacing. I’m still mostly a pantser (a writer who writes by the seat of his pants), but at least having a basic outline might help. I’ve had nebulous ideas all along, but I want to firm them up some.

Of course, I’ll change them all the time. But at least they’ll be something I *know* I’m changing.

Anyway, that’s enough for now.
Quote of the Week
I may or may not get anything done on Monday the 3rd. Just warning you. In my mind, the first Monday in April (sometimes the last Monday in March) should be a national holiday. It’s baseball Opening Day, and I’m only halfway joking about the national holiday thing.

Opening Day has a magic about it. It’s a day of comfort, a sure sign of the end of winter and a return of the poetry of the game. It’s a day of hope, because on that day every team is in the playoff race and every fan can imagine a way, if things come together just right, their team can make it to the playoffs, and if that happens, who knows?
On Opening Day, though, it’s fresh again. Checking box scores has not yet become routine again. It’s like sleeping in your own bed for the first time after a long trip. You know it’ll become part of the routine again, and you’ll like it then too, but not with the snuggly, burrowing feel of that first night.

Why not have a holiday celebrating comfort, hope, and the return of spring?

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”
– Rogers Hornsby

News and Works in Progress

  • Finishing Where Now the Rider
  • Plotting Brief is My Flame and None Call Me Mother
Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Nothing new this week. I’ll be adding a batch of updates to the wiki to catch up with things in Where Now the Rider.
Upcoming Events
Spotlight
I listen to a lot of folk metal like Tyr, Korpiklaani, and Tengger Cavalry. Not surprisingly, I often fall into the rabbit hole of YouTube going from band-to-band. One of the things I love is the use of medieval and traditional instruments in hard-driving music. This past week I ran into Sventoyar, a Ukrainian folk metal band who has a person routinely playing the hammered dulcimer. It will come as no surprise to many that amongst my friends in the SCA is a professional hammered dulcimer player.
Since I teased him that Sventoyar might have supplanted him as my favorite musical act with a hammered dulcimer, this week my spotlight is on Vince Conaway. He’s a fantastic musician, and one of the great parts of Gulf Wars to me was working in Drix’s shop when he was playing nearby.

Anyway, you can find his stuff at: http://www.vinceconaway.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

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