Category Archives: Fiction

Posts about Rob’s writing.

Interview: Eric S. Brown

Greetings all

This week I’m interviewing Eric S. Brown who is, among other things, one of the many writers like myself writing in the Four Horsemen Universe. He’s also written a bunch of horror, military science fiction, and kaiju stuff.

And when I say a bunch, I mean it. Take a look at his Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Eric S. Brown/e/B004G6XP7E/. You’ll find twelve pages of books there.

Eric, what is your quest?

I am a professional horror and SF writer.  I’m also a collector of all things comics and SF.  David Drake is my hero.  I learned how to write by reading his work when I was younger.  One could blame my whole career on Dave.

What is your favorite color?

I like the color green.  I also like to scare people with words.  I’ve been writing horror for about 17 years now.  I write the type of stories I want to see as a fan.  That’s how my book Bigfoot War came about.  I had been writing zombie stuff for a long time and even did a Z novel for Simon and Schuster (War of the Worlds Plus Blood Guts and Zombies).  I was burnt out on zombies and really wanted to do something different.  Bigfoot War is that.  It makes Sasquatch truly frightening beasts and unleashes hordes of them upon the world.  Bigfoot War (Bigfoot Wars on IMDB) was adapted into a feature film by Origin Releasing with C. Thomas Howell (The Outsiders) and Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club).  While the paycheck was nice, I really didn’t care for the movie and it didn’t have a lot to do with my then series of Bigfoot War books.

Eric S. Brown
Eric S. Brown

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I like to think that the books I write are FUN above all else.  From Bigfoot War to Kaiju Apocalypse to Casper Alamo (set in Chris Kennedy’s Four Horsemen Universe) my books are about guns and monsters with loads of action and more than a little gore.  I have a Mech/Psionics/Vampires book coming out later this year entitled Psi-Mechs Inc.  I am biased but I think it’s the best thing I have ever written.  It’s about mech pilots and psychics who hunt monsters.

Lightning Round (answer any or all, be as verbose and whimsical as you wish)

Casper Alamo cover
Casper Alamo cover
  • Favorite Muppet? The Shrimp guy.
  • Favorite Sports Team?  I don’t do sports so I am going with The Micronauts on this one.
  • Cake or Pie?  Cake
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime
  • Favorite Chip Dip?    Don’t have one.
  • Wet or Dry? Wet.  Always wet.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?   Sorry but to me music consists of Rush, more Rush, and a little more Rush. (ed. note: I knew I liked him for a reason)
  • Whisky or Whiskey?  Don’t drink.
  • Favorite Superhero? Wonder Woman for DC and Daredevil for Marvel.
  • Steak Temperature? Well Done. (ed. note: Sigh)
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Battlestar Galactica.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall.
  • Favorite Pet?  (provide pictures if you want) I love cats.  The favorite cat of my life was Howard, named after Lovecraft.  I had him for seven years but he passed from health issues.
  • Best Game Ever? I don’t really game so I will go with 2nd edition D&D from back in the day.
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee!!
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Sci-Fi all the way.

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

How did you get into interviewing people?

My answer: I had been interviewed by other people, and I wanted some more content on my blog. Also, it turns out that perhaps the most time-consuming aspect of writing my weekly email is finding someone to spotlight. This way, I don’t have to worry about it.

Do you love the rebooted BSG as every right thinking SF person should?

My answer: Oddly no, mostly because I haven’t actually seen it. Much like Eric, I loved the original and I found it hard to give it a chance. Also, I don’t watch many TV shows. Usually, my personal preference is something to do with sports.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

The Squad cover
The Squad cover

And Where can we find you?

I try to attend Liberty con every year.  Aside from that, I am a very stay at home sort of writer.

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

My newest release is The Squad.  It’s a Bigfoot horror book set in the south.  Other books I have had released this year as Casper Alamo, Day of the Sasquatch, Bigfoot, and a dark fantasy, Lovecraftian Roman novel entitled Beyond Night.


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: Only in Dying, Life

Week 4 of 2018

Greetings all

I have successfully made it back from ChattaCon. You can find my ChattaCon AAR here. The TL:DR version is that I really enjoy working with a number of writers and had lots of panels, but I don’t think I got enough value out of the cost of the trip. We’ll have to see about next year.

It’s good to get back. I don’t have any huge trips planned until Gulf Wars, though I am going to a few things. I’ll be at Clothier’s Seminar in a couple of weeks, then to Planet Comicon in KC in February.

Hopefully during that time we’ll see a change in the house situation. We’ll see. It cannot go on forever.

Still, I’m anticipating getting back into the rhythm of producing content and being a house-husband. I rather enjoy cooking, and I’ve hand fun playing around with new recipes.

One drawback of traveling is that it’s hard to eat well. I did my best at the Bird House, but overall I gained back about 5 pounds. I’m basically back where I started the year. Still, things could have been worse.

I’m adding two numbers below, just because I want to keep track of them. One is the number of articles on the Shijuren wiki, and the other is the number on the Four Horsemen wiki. I’m mostly doing this out of curiosity, but I know that Chris and Mark are anxious to see those numbers increase on the Four Horsemen wiki.

And speaking of that, after I send out this email, I’ll add some more entries. By the way, the Four Horsemen wiki is at: http://mercenaryguild.org/wiki/tiki-index.php.

Current Playlist Song: Saltarello Wascherschloss by Corvus Corax. Corvus Corax is one of those bands that plays medieval music with medieval instruments, but with an almost metal energy.

Quote of the Week

2018 has been rough for me, and I’m sad to see Ursula K. Le Guin passed. The Wizard of Earthsea was the book I latched onto after Lord of the Rings. I vividly remember finding it in my 6th grade library. I know it was 6th grade because I remember the library and it wasn’t the one I had in 5th nor the one I had in 7th.

Anyway, today’s quote comes from her, and I hope she’s enjoying its fruits.

“Only in silence the word, only in dark the light, only in dying life: bright the hawk’s flight on the empty sky.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea

News and Works in Progress

  • No short stories this week.
  • Brief Is My Flame (32437) There are actually some snippets flying around that will get added next week.

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

I mentioned last week that I’ll be in an anthology bringing back the Pussy Katnip characters. Here’s the first of four novels Brett Brooks has written so far in this universe: https://www.amazon.com/Red-Darkest-Color-Pussy-Katnip-ebook/dp/B01HJB3O1Y/

Today’s Weight: 389.0

Updated Word Count: 10704

Shijuren Wiki: 736 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 59 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
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

ChattaCon AAR

Greetings all

I made it back from ChattaCon a couple of hours ago. I worked to find a way to please three cats who demanded attention with only two hands. Then I took a nap with three cats on top of me. I’m finally able to get to this post under the watchful eye of the WW1 Flying Kitty.

Well, under the napping eye of the WW1 Flying Kitty, but she’ll be watchful the moment I move from the keyboard.

Anyway, I had a very good time at ChattaCon, if exhausting. I ended up on 8 panels, as I covered for Chris Kennedy on a couple. I like a busy schedule, and I enjoy the work, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t tired on Sunday.

My first panel was on Friday night and it was a throwback to my academic years. It was arranged by Dr. Valerie Hampton of the University of Florida, who wanted to talk about NeoMedievalism, both in an academic and literary context.

After that I went to Opening Ceremonies and then the LibertyCon Room Party. Had a great time. Did not go to bed early. Shockingly, I did not go to bed sober, either. Fun networking, though.

Saturday was the long day, as usual. It started with a panel on combining genres at 10am. It was actually a little different than most of the similar panels I’ve been on because the others had mixed things with horror. Also, there was a lot of discussion of how this works in screenplays, which was fascinating to me.

Then at 1pm I took Chris’s spot on the How Much Science Should a Science Fiction Writer Know. Ironically, the actual scientist couldn’t make it, and to a great extent, we just faked it, which means relying on questions from the audience. This is especially true since Chris was the intended moderator, which I did not know, so I had no questions planned. My answer to this is: “A writer should know enough to avoid knocking their readers out of the story because of obvious inaccuracies or using science for deus ex machina endings.”

At 2pm was my favorite panel. We discussed the Vikings in literature, flim, and art. Sam Flegal was the sponsor, and he is a fantastic creator of Norse-themed art. In fact, I picked up his illustrated Havamal this weekend.

At 4pm we did the Theogony Books expo. Chris is publishing a ton of books in 2018. There’ll be 21 more in the Four Horsemen Universe, meaning if I only average a book a month in the wiki, I’ll be nine books farther behind in a year. Oh, well. Speaking of which, there was a good response to the wiki, and I’m excited about where it’s going.

The next panel was called More Than Swords, where again I was taking Chris’s place, and again I didn’t know I was the moderator. Still, this was a great panel for me, because I would like to think I’m reasonably knowledgeable on medieval military topics, even when we’re talking military fantasy.

Finally, at 8pm, I did my last panel on Saturday. In it, we discussed historical fantasy, and some of the ways we can draw from history and put it into our books.

After that panel, I got dinner. I had tried to get dinner between the panels at 6 and 8, but the hotel restaurant was simply too slow. I wasn’t the only one. In fact, while the service at the hotel was amazingly good, actually, the actual logistics were awful. Lukewarm showers, slow times out with food, that sort of thing. Why are the expensive hotels so consistently bad at this sort of thing? Very irritating. Don’t ever stay at the Chattanoogan unless going there for a convention.

Anyway, then was my one chance to game. That didn’t go well, not simply because I lost. I was just too tired to focus, and there were too many distractions. Ah, well. Next time.

All I needed to do on Sunday morning was get checked out an eat breakfast. It was a bit of a worry, at first, because people had glommed on to the carts and the valets didn’t know where they were. However, they took my number, helped me with my stuff, and I even had a little time to relax before my last panel.

That panel discussed storytelling. One of the fascinating subjects was the topic of opening lines and why they worked. It isn’t easy, but somehow the writer needs to connect to the reader quickly. Fun, with a lot of going back and forth.

Overall, the schedule went really well, if busy. However, the con seemed lightly attended. The con organizers did a pretty good job, though a Chattanooga official (we think) enforced a $50 fee for the vendors. This is not something that any of the vendors had seen before, and the Dealer’s Room coordinator was just as surprised. It looks like it’s being investigated, though, so maybe it was just a mistake.

I had a great time networking, and was able to get some fun gifts, so the trip was worth the time. However, I’m going to have to find a way to reduce costs if I’m going to go back to ChattaCon. LibertyCon is a much more useful con, so I’ll consistently return to the area, but we’ll have to see what else is going on around that time next year.

 

Brief Is My Flame Snippet

2018 is starting off hellishly, in terms of bad things happening. Even worse than last year.

I’ve been writing a bunch this week of characters that are based on people I know. Most of that is to help my friend Mar, who had a brain aneurysm on New Year’s Day.

This, this is not for that. It’s for someone else. Another fyrd brother who has days to live.

North Road, Svellheim

Somehow, a large drop of rain slid through the birch leaves, evaded Geirr’s hood, and landed on the tip of his nose. He woke with a start.

He stiffly rose and with only one slip to his knees in the morass that had once been dirt, he reached a birch tree and relieved himself. His cold hands fumbled with the string of his pants, but eventually he was able to get everything back together. He started back to his bedding when…

What that something rustling?

He stood motionless, ears seeking to hear something besides the next drop striking its target.

He was not reassured when he did not hear anything. He went to his sword, noticing that Thyri was already stringing her bow. He pointed at his ear without saying anything. She nodded.

“Jussi and Sveinn?” he whispered.

She shrugged.

They looked at Ansgar, who had awakened and was watching them silently, but not moving or trying to escape.

Geirr stared out into the rainy blackness. “I don’t like this.”

“Nor do I.”

“Cut him free,” he gestured at Ansgar.

Her eyebrows rose.

“This isn’t right.” He looked at Ansgar. “I’ll cut you free, but you must do as I say.”

“Aye, I’ll be doin’ that. I’s feelin’ something, too. Like one a’ them mountain wolves we’s havin’ in the Rueckenberge or worse.”

Suddenly, the darkness was split with a battle cry.

“That’s Sveinn!” cried Thyri.

“But which way?”

Then, just as suddenly, a bright light erupted down the hill.

“Ansgar, stay here!” Geirr sprang down the hill, sword in hand and shield at the ready.

Thyri followed, cursing the rain, again, but stringing her bow nonetheless.

After clearing the trees around the campsite, Geirr could see Jussi holding up a stone that was infused with some magic. The stone glittered, clearly some sort of quartz, and the light came out in rainbow beams. He held his sword in the other hand, but he was not being attacked at that precise moment.

Sveinn had charged into the two great creatures, thereby giving Jussi the time to pull out the lightstone.

Are those bears? Giant wolves? Geirr stop wondering what those creatures were to race towards the fight.

Sveinn chopped at one of the beasts with his favored sword, one that was almost as tall as he. Geirr could see water fly off both the blade and Sveinn’s beard as he twisted all of his sturdy form into the immensely powerful strike. The drops shimmered in Jussi’s light, glinting like diamonds.

The beast screamed in pain when the blow landed.

But it didn’t fall! How could anything not be slain by that? Geirr stopped wondering as he reached the nearest beast. It turned from Sveinn, swinging the back of its great paw.

The blow impacted on his shield and it shattered. Pieces of oak flew past Geirr’s head. He staggered at the power, but stabbed instinctively at the wolf-bear’s belly. His blade sank deep, and Geirr yanked it out with a twist.

But the wound simply enraged the beast. It smashed its clenched paw straight down at Geirr, who managed to escape most of the blow. It still hit his shoulder, and knocked him down.

The creature roared and stepped forward. An arrow sliced into the light to hit it in the chest. Another followed a breath later. The impact of Thyri’s arrows caused the creature to step back and give Geirr time to rise again.

Sveinn, meanwhile, had been knocked aside as well, but the tough huscarl bounced up with a lunge that went full into the beast’s chest. The wolf-bear shouted his anger and flung itself around. Sveinn had tried to hold onto his sword, but the creature’s twist sent him flying. Geirr heard a thud in the darkness as Sveinn landed.

Geirr stepped in with a quick slash at the creature’s knee. He did not follow through on the blow, as he had done earlier, but he did nick the wolf-bear and bounded out of the return swing. He stepped forward and nicked the other leg.

It seemed like the beast barely felt the wounds, but once again Geirr was able to step backward and avoid the creature’s swipe.

Three arrows in quick succession flew over his shoulder to impact in the wolf-bear that had tossed Sveinn away. Two sank next to Sveinn’s huge sword. One went deep into the creature’s roaring mouth. The creature stumbled off as it tried to catch its breath with an arrow in its throat.

Geirr jumped in again, just as he had done before, but this time instead of aiming a quick swipe at the creature’s legs, he swung at the arm descending upon him.

The impact knocked Geirr to the ground. He heard the sundering of his family’s water-patterned sword and saw the tip shine in Jussi’s light as it flew away.

The blow had hurt the creature though. Its arm dangled, barely attached at the elbow. It tried to pound Geirr with it and looked confused as it did not react properly.

Geirr pulled out his short knife, though he had no idea what he would do with it against that thing.

It stepped forward to swing its other paw. Geirr braced for the impact. An arrow whistled past his head to join the earlier pair.

The creature hesitated, but only for a second, and again Geirr braced as the paw descended upon him.

But the paw suddenly curved up as the beast bent backwards. Sveinn had staggered back and he was calmly twisting his own knife deep into the back of the creature’s knee.

He was covered in blood. A nasty knock on his head slid down his hair and his cheek, giving color once again to the beard that had long since started towards gray. The creature’s blood gushed over his arm as he twisted the knife.

The creature turned towards Sveinn, ripping the blade out of his hand and raking his claws along his hauberk. The iron ripped, and blood seeped through the mail. Sveinn fell back.

But Geirr finally saw what to do with his short blade. He jumped on the creature’s back and jammed it into its neck.

It rose in a roar, throwing Geirr off to the side.

He looked up with blurry eyes as three more arrows streaked in, but it was Geirr’s knife that did the trick, and the wolf-bear, clutching its throat, toppled over, landing on Sveinn’s legs.

Jussi rushed to Geirr.

“I’m fine.” He coughed. “Or at least I will be.”

“No you’re not,” spat Jussi.

“I’m fine enough,” repeated Geirr. “Just help me up.”

Dubiously, Jussi helped Geirr stagger to his feet.

“Now go look at Sveinn.”

“He’s not my lord.”

“No, he’s not. I am, and I tell you to go look at him,” snarled the Jarl of Skjaerdalen.

Startled, Jussi rushed off.

Geirr started towards Sveinn, but would have fallen if Thyri had not come up and caught him.

“Careful, Geirr. You’re not fine.”

Geirr stretched. “I think maybe a rib isn’t right. And my knee is wrenched.”

“You’ll have Woden’s own headache tomorrow.”

He touched his head where a lump was forming and grimaced. “Help me to Sveinn.”

Jussi had set the stone next to the huscarl and was fussing over him.

Sveinn watched with his normal relaxed expression as Geirr tottered up to them.

“How is he?”

Jussi snapped, “Let me work, boy.” He glanced at Thyri. “See if the two of you can push that creature off Sveinn’s ankle.”

It took Thyri gathering a largish stone and a fallen oak branch, plus garnering Ansgar’s help, to allow them to lever the creature off Sveinn.

His foot was twisted, the ankle obviously broken.

Sveinn glanced down. “Not seen it look like that before.”

Geirr barked a laugh at Sveinn’s dusty dry comment. “When’s the last time you let a wolf-bear thing fall on you.”

“Now that you’re sayin’, I don’t recall.”

“We need to get him, and you for that matter, back into some shelter,” said Jussi. “Thyri, you and Ansgar, carry him back to our campsite.” The older huscarl glared at Geirr. “And you, boy, you carry the lightstone. Try not to fall.”

Geirr nodded and followed quickly as he could. The others trudged, carefully, up to the campsite. Sveinn said nothing, but the pain of each step forced gasps out of his throat.

When they set Sveinn down, Jussi reached into a pouch and handed Thyri a small stone. She raised her eyebrows when she saw it. “We could have used a firestarter earlier.”

“We didn’t need a fire then,” snapped Jussi. “But we do now, so get it lit.”

She rapped the stone sharply on another rock, and then slid into the tinder and kindling that had earlier resisted all her previous attempts to light. Soon a fire blazed, hotter than normal, with steam rising off the wood.

By that point, Jussi leaned back, coughing. Thyri caught him before he fell into the fire.

“Sveinn?” asked Geirr.

He ignored him, and with fumbling hands, splinted Sveinn’s ankle.

“Sveinn?” repeated the jarl.

Jussi crawled to his bedroll. “He’ll need water. I’ll need food… when I wake.” Almost immediately, he fell asleep.

Geirr looked at Sveinn. “How do you feel?”

“Not my best, lord.” Sveinn said drowsily.

The jarl held up a waterskin, and Sveinn drank. Then, pushing it away, the huscarl nodded off.

“I’ll be back in a moment, lord.”

“Where are you going, Thyri?”

“I want to make sure the other one is actually dead.”

Geirr considered Ansgar. Then looked up at her. What was it? I’ve never seen the like.”

“Neither have I.” Thyri hesitated.

“But?”

“But I’ve heard of such creatures. They never come down to the North Road, though. They’re seen in the deep mountain valleys. Many ridges to the north and east. Not here.”

“Well, they are now. By all means, make sure it’s dead. We can’t have it attack other travelers.”

“Yes.” She slipped away.

Geirr tried to stay alert, but he too soon nodded off.

Thyri woke him with a soft hand to his shoulder. “Some guard you are, lord.”

“The worst,” agreed Geirr.

Ansgar chuckled. “That was certainly my chance.”

The jarl snorted. “You’ve had others.”

“Yes, lord. But I do what Eleonore says.”

“Or you’ll die.”

“I’d rather face whatever that was than her, iffin’ I hadn’t done as she said.”

Geirr shook his head as Thyri laid Sveinn’s sword next to him, the pommel close to his hand.

“So it was dead.”

“Yes. Though how it ever lived so long I’ll not know. It was about a mile down the road.”

“Did it attack anyone else?”

“No.” She paused. “I didn’t see anyone else.”

Geirr’s eyes widened. “No caravans? No travelers at all?”

Thyri shook her head.

“Over a mile or so of the North Road? Right now?”

“No, Jarl. Not a soul.”

“Something is terribly wrong.”

She nodded. “I’ll get more firewood.”

Rob’s Update: Toys for Tots

Week of 12-18 November

Greetings all

It’s been a good week. Lots of work on Eleonore’s portion of Brief Is My Flame, which is always fun for me. She’s one of my favorite characters. The only real problem with her is not having too many words about her. There’s no real way to write a full novel just about her in this sequence, but I easily could.

One of the threads I’ve added that was not part of I Am a Wondrous Thing is Geirr Stronghair in Svellheim. He and Eleonore will have some interesting times together.

On a different note, I may have found a replacement for Brewbaker’s. If you recall, Brewbaker’s in the Kansas City area was a bar that proved especially comfortable and productive. There’s a barbecue place in Council Bluffs that may prove just as productive a spot.

And if it doesn’t turn out quite as well, I’ll somehow survive eating the ribs and pulled pork. And the brisket. Oh, the sausage balls are tasty too. It’s not quite B&C Creations in Wichita level of barbecue, but I’ll make do.

Tomorrow, I will head to Calontir’s Toys for Tots Tournament. It’s a great event because of all the toys we gather. Always over a thousand. It’s definitely a cool thing to have Marines come into a medieval-themed court and accept the toys formally. For those readers not coming, which is most of you, I ask that consider finding a Marine and giving him a new, unopened, and unwrapped toy. It’s a good cause in my opinion.

Well, I should get back to writing another battle scene. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone.

Quote of the Week

One of the interesting things about writing is how much you have to honestly evaluate what you’re doing, and that’s hard. Imposter syndrome makes it hard to like what you’ve written sometimes, but at the same time each sentence is one of your babies. Don’t want to cut what is good, but nothing is good if you leave in the extra stuff.

Rush, of course, helps me when I’m fighting through some of this, so we get this week’s quote. I hear this song and then I remember to distance myself from myself when I look at what I’ve written. I should probably just put this song on repeat when I’m editing.

All puffed up with vanity
We see what we want to see
To the beautiful and the wise
The mirror always lies
– Rush, “War Paint”

News and Works in Progress

  • Brief Is My Flame, about 25k now
  • A short story about the meeting of Edward and Deor
  • A seeeekrit project that I’ll open up in December.

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

Today, The Good, the Bad, and the Merc, the third collection of short stories in the Four Horsemen Universe was released into the wild. You can find it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Good-Bad-Merc-Horsemen-Revelations-ebook/dp/B077H6H36M/

There’s a lot coming up in the Four Horsemen Universe and these three collections have a ton of background information and backstories. And, of course, my excellent story “Where Enemies Sit” in For a Few Credits More 😉

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

HonorCon AAR

Greetings all

I’m finally back in Council Bluffs at my own desk with enough energy after the drive to be coherent. Go me! It’s time for an HonorCon AAR and later on today, after I actually do some writing, I’ll do my weekly update.

This was my second HonorCon. The first, I met some guy named Chris Kennedy in the bar. The second, he helped make this a fantastic con. And that’s not even counting how we all made his wife blush while, you guessed it, drinking at a bar.

I went to HonorCon only being on one panel as far as I knew, my Martin Koszta Affair panel. However, the way they structured panels there was to allow people to create panels, and then staff them themselves. Chris, being the go-getter he is, had created a bunch of panels and he invited me to join him on a bunch of others so I was kept pretty busy.

The first panel we did on Friday covered Indie Publishing: Getting Known as an Author. I wish I could tell you just what all we did in this panel, but honestly, I was a bit frazzled and I really don’t remember the details. After this panel, I spent a goodly amount of the rest of the day hanging in the con suite, and had a beer or two, but I ended up going back to my hotel room early and watching baseball.

Saturday, first thing in the morning, was a panel entitled, But I Liked That Guy! In this panel, Chris, Mark Wandrey, Ian Malone, and I discussed the value and challenges of killing off characters. Most of you know that I will kill off characters in the flow of the story, but I don’t simply kill them off constantly, as in Game of Thrones. I believe characters have to die periodically, or there’s no suspense when characters get into life-threatening situations. In swords and sorcery fiction, they have to be put in such situations and the can’t always survive. So they don’t. On the other hand, I’m not playing fair with my readers if I simply kill them off for no good reason.

My next panel was several hours later, so I lounged in the con suite for a while. This was a very good con suite, and there were some good conversations. I met an airplane mechanic who had worked on P-38s, P-51s, and F4Us in his spare time. I was fascinated to hear some of the very specific details of each type, which gave me some story ideas.

At 3pm on Saturday was basically Chris’s version of the Baen Road Show: Theogony Books: A Big Year in 2018? I was a part of this panel both because of my story “Where Enemies Sit” in For a Few Credits More, but also because I’ve taken on the project to design and build a wiki in the Four Horsemen Universe. I’ll be starting on that today, as a matter of fact. The upshot, is that Chris will be publishing, either as author or publisher, a dozen books in 2018. And maybe more. Big doings, indeed.

After that was my Martin Koszta Affair panel. I designed this panel as a tool to discuss the ways I use history to world-build and create stories. It’s easy to say that history is a wonderful place to mine for ideas, but this panel goes into nuts and bolts and has been very well-received. However, about 15 minutes into it, I realized it wasn’t meshing as well with the audience as normal. It turns out they wanted simply to hear the history, and not about using it as a writing prompt. I adjusted, and we went farther into the possible ramifications, had things played out only slightly differently.

You may see alternate history novels about the First World War, which started in 1853. Just sayin…

We spent Saturday evening having dinner at the Bahama Breeze right next to the hotel. We being Chris, Sheellah (his wife), Mark and Joy Wandrey, Chris and Christine Maddox, Beth Agejew and J.R. Handley. We had a blast, and also talked about a variety of business things, which resulted in more work for me that I’ll talk more about when the time comes.

Sunday was another early morning, with a panel at 9am on Genre Blending: Scifi, Fantasy and More. Unlike the same panel we did at ConStellation, Chris was prepared to moderate and this wasn’t quite the train wreck of whimsy and confusion.

Immediately following was a panel discussing The Economics of Self-Publishing. This panel was just Chris and I. I don’t know that I helped the audience much, but I learned a ton.

Normally, I like to stay for closing ceremonies, but this panel was done at 11, and after a series of goodbyes, I got on the road. I wanted to get west of Louisville by Sunday night, and it was well we left as quickly as we did, given the snow and high winds in along I-77 in the mountains.

For a number of reasons, HonorCon was not terribly smooth for me. I forgot to get reservations and pre-register for example, and I had a number of other issues that are now irrelevant. I only had one panel initially scheduled, so I wondered how valuable the con would be. However, thanks to Chris, Mark, and a bunch of people I met, it turned out to be a fantastic con despite the hassles.

Rob’s Update: Near Tannhauser Gate

Weeks of 1-14 October

Greetings all. It’s been a busy couple of weeks, and there’s some good news to report. Though I don’t have news on a house, we’ve managed to carve out enough space for me to have a cubicle I can work in from home. I haven’t had such a thing in months.

I’ve been working on a series of small things, including some short stories in Shijuren. Also, I’ve made major progress on the website upgrade. I expect that to go live soon.

That hasn’t left much time for Brief Is My Flame, but there have been bits and pieces here and there. Scenes, mostly, or snippets of conversation. I don’t actually know how many words, because they’re in a variety of places right now, but when I get back I’ll piece them together.

Get back? Where is Rob going?

Well, let me tell you. My mom wanted to see relatives in North Carolina, so we scheduled a trip in conjunction with cons and events. We leave tomorrow and wind our way to Huntsville, AL where I’ll be at Constellation.

Then, we see a variety of relatives as we make our way across eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. On Wednesday of next week, I’ll drop my mom off with relatives and end up in Boonville, where I’ll be selling books at War of the Wings. This will be a good chance for me to get my name out to a part of the SCA I’ve not spent much time at.

Following that, we spend more time with relatives concluded by attending HonorCon in Raleigh.

Whew. I’m gonna be tired in early November, I tell you what. But I’m really excited.

Quote of the Week

I don’t know when I’ll get to see it, but I’m really excited about Blade Runner 2049. So, there seems only one quote that’s appropriate.

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain…” – Roy Batty, Blade Runner

News and Works in Progress

  • Short stories
  • Brief Is My Flame

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Nothing new to add, but more will be coming during the trip.

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

My story in For a Few Credits More involves a Peacemaker, but Peacemakers in the Four Horsemen Universe have their noses in all sorts of places. Kevin Ikenberry, who assisted me to make sure we were consistent, put out a full length Peacemaker novel. Here’s his author page on Amazon for the rest of his stuff: https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-Ikenberry/e/B00ASFBXT4/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_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: An Office in the Wilderness

Week of 17-30 September

Greetings all

Sorry I didn’t post an update last week, things were just kind of wonky. I’ve mentioned that I’m in the midst of moving to Omaha, and last week I finally realized I needed to make the more permanent step of moving my cat Thorn and set up some sort of an office up there. I’ve had no real place to work in my house in Olathe for a while now, and it has hampered progress.

I had hoped that I would close on a house in Omaha next week. Sadly, that fell through primarily because the mortgage company promised things it could not deliver. I’m now looking for a new mortgage company and trying to be patient as we start the process anew.

So I’ve been focused on all those sorts of things instead of writing. The good news is that this sort of time spawns all sorts of ideas, and a voice recorder lets me note them or when I’ll have a chance to seriously write.

I’m also in the midst of a lot of travel over the next month. In a sense, now is the exact right time to not really have a home, given that I’d have been away from it anyway. Last week’s trip to Grimfells went well. I anticipate a enjoyable and productive weekend and I’m very much looking forward to my upcoming trip to Constellation, War of the Wings, and HonorCon.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Quote of the Week

One of the reasons we’re disappointed about not getting the house is that we were hoping to host Thanksgiving at the new place. That’s not happening now. Still, no  matter when it happens, we believe in this quote.

“The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

News and Works in Progress

  • About 1k in Brief Is My Flame

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Nothing this week.

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

One of my favorite stories in For a Few Credits More is “Forbidden Science” by Terry Mixon. He gets, shall we say, back to the future with antimatter. Fun stuff, now with extra big explosions! You can find his work at http://www.terrymixon.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

Rob’s Update: Mechs in Action

Week of 10-16 September

Greetings all and welcome to release day!

For a Few Credits More, the second anthology in the Four Horsemen Universe is now available at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075LGF41H

I want to thank Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey for letting me play in their sandbox. If you like military science fiction with mechs, this is the universe for you.

My story, “Where Enemies Sit” talks about a lieutenant on his first deployment. The title comes from the Havamal which begins:

All the entrances, before you walk forward,
you should look at,
you should spy out;
for you can’t know for certain where enemies are sitting,
ahead in the hall
(Larrington, Carolyne. (Trans.) (1999) The Poetic Edda, page 14. Oxford World’s Classics)

Let’s just say the lieutenant finds enemies sitting where he did not expect.

Anyway, I’m very excited to become a part of the Four Horsemen Universe, and hope to be allowed to contribute more. “Where Enemies Sit” has spawned a number of ideas for me that I will try and fit between writing in Shijuren.

Speaking of which, I’ve done a little, but not much. With all the upheaval in my life, I simply haven’t written much. I’ve done a number of other projects, though, and have been clearing the decks of some assembled things that have also needed attention.

I’ve got a series of SCA events to attend over the next three weeks. I’ll be at Queen’s Prize Tournament, which will give me an opportunity to visit with my apprentice. The week after, I’ll be in Grimfells with my booth. I’ll also be selling at the Gryphon’s Fest event.

I hope to have copies of For a Few Credits More there, but it may take a while.

With that, I’ll get back to work.

Quote of the Week

Also from Larrington’s translation of the Havamal is a much more famous passage:

Cattle die,
kinsmen die
you yourself die;
I know one thing
which never dies:
the judgment of a dead man’s life
– The Havamal, Stanza 77

News and Works in Progress

  • Did about 2k words in Brief Is My Flame this week. Not much really, but I’ve been scribbling out and recording notes to hopefully make the writing much quicker when everything settles down.

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Last week I did my NFL prediction at http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=839. There are also eight other blog posts breaking down each division. They’re linked in this main post.

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

I’ve put both of them here before, but this week’s spotlight again goes to Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey, whose Four Horsemen Universe is blowing up. In fact, over the next few weeks, I’ll be linking to other authors in For a Few Credits More.

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: Surviving the Dragon

Week of 3-9 September

Well, I survived DragonCon. I have an AAR up at: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=798. The TL:DR version: the logistics of 80,000 people in downtown Atlanta limit the fun, but there’s still lots of fun to be had.

Now I’m back home, sorta. We found a house and put in a bid. In fact, I signed the accepted counter-offer while in Atlanta. We went through the inspection yesterday and, for a house built in the early 50s, it’s in fantastic shape. There are quibbles here and there, and a couple of things we’re going to ask from the sellers, but by and large, nothing we can’t fix.

Exciting times.

Now we just have to make sure the financing goes through correctly. I get there are reasons for all of this but man this process is frustrating.

As for writing, I’ve done a little here and there, but for the time being it’s going to be iffy. Between the move and planned trips, time has been an issue. I did manage to get a good start on a particular thread while at DragonCon, though.

Now, the time has given some ideas a chance to percolate, so it’s not been unfruitful. Also, I’ve come up with a good short story idea that I’ve been dabbling with. I can’t finish it until I get access to my books, which are currently packed up, though.

The big news next week is that my opportunity to be “And More” will arrive as For a Few Credits More will be released on the 15th. I’ll have a link for you next week.

Tonight, the NFL season starts. I’m so ready. I’ll be writing my NFL Preview during the game so expect that post late tonight.

Quote of the Week

I’m not a huge Neil Gaiman fan. Yes, I know that makes me a heretic. However, I do love this quote.

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
Neil Gaiman, Coraline

News and Works in Progress

  • New short story. It’s a secret 🙂
  • Brief Is My Flame (12k)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

While Van Allen Plexico let me have space at DragonCon, it was Brett Brooks and his wife Allyson who did much of the work manning the booth. You can find Brett’s Facebook author page here: https://www.facebook.com/brettbrooksauthor/. He has a fun and whimsical take on the Noir detective.

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