Category Archives: Weekly Update

Rob’s Weekly Updates.

Rob’s Update: Weird Albuquerques

Week 14 of 2020

Greetings all

It’s been a really productive week here. I’ve been getting off my butt and doing projects around the house. I had some leftover lumber from a project and built another 6-board chest. It’ll be finished tomorrow or Sunday. I’m down to touching up the paint, adding the hinge, and putting in the handles.

I also started a new bookcase that is explicitly designed to hold my collection of Analogs, Amazings, and other SF/F magazines. I may have to build two, but this all came out of lumber I had in stock with the exception that I’ll need to buy a sheet of 1/4in plywood cut the right dimensions to match the back.

I also decided to buy something that I’ve been looking at for some time. I have never had an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier because I get so little call for such thing. However, it’s happening more and more. Also, I’ve had very little need for a color laser, but it wouldn’t hurt to improve my signage at events. Color laser all-in-ones have come down to under $300 so it was time.

Writing also went really well this week, especially today. I’ve been pounding at one thread in None Call Me Mother for months. I have to get one person in the thread to the final battle and every attempt I made just felt forced. This snarl was worthy of Order of the Stick.

I finally came up with an answer.

And today was one of my most free and relaxed writing sessions in ages. I knew what had to be done, but this snag has literally held me up for a month.

Of course, last week was the release of When Valor Must Hold and I’ve am pleased with the response. I’m not surprised that all of our reviews and ratings so far have been 5 star, because I knew it was that good, but it’s pleasing nonetheless to have that confirmed once it got released into the wild.

As I mentioned last week, I have another short story coming out on 1 May. It’s entitled “Fire From Fire Quickened” and it will be released in the next Four Horsemen anthology entitled Gates of Hell.

Currently, I have two more short story projects in the works, one due in the middle of April and one at the end of May. Next week I’ll write the draft for the first one, which is a prequel to “The Chaos of Well-Seeming Forms” from We Dare. I’m working with Yvonne Jacobs on this one and we have some fun ideas. As for the second one, I have some ideas coming already, though I need to wallow in a particular style before writing it.

It’s been a busy week around here.

What I’m Listening To

Weird Al’s Angry White Boy Polka. Al is really a national treasure. If you’ve never seen him live, I suggest it, even if you’re not a huge fan of his parodies. He and his band are actually extremely skilled musicians. His schtick would never have worked this long if he and his guys hadn’t actually been good.

Side note: I’ve won a number of fantasy leagues with the team name: Weird Albuquerques.

Second side note: You know, that’s not only a great team name but a fun title for an update…

Quote of the Week

Today’s quote is incredibly apt right now. Weird Al is not only skilled, he’s prescient.

“Look
If you had
one shot
to sit on your lazy butt
and watch all the TV you ever wanted
until your brain turned to mush
Would you go for it?
or just let it slip?”
– Weird Al, “Couch Potato” from Poodle Hat

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (a bunch)
  • CB (8,418)
  • HM (6,374)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • I actually dropped the ball on blog posts this week. I kept getting distracted.

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

WVMH Orange Tag
WVMH Orange Tag

This week’s spotlight is still on When Valor Must Hold, which you can find at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086236WMT. Now up to 15 5-star reviews.

Today’s Weight: 398.4

Updated Word Count: 49,244

Shijuren Wiki: Making progress

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

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: When Valor Must Hold

Week 13 of 2020

Greetings all

When Valor Must Hold came out today and it has already earned an orange tag as number one new fantasy anthology. This is so cool, it deserves a screenshot.

WVMH Orange Tag
WVMH Orange Tag

You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086236WMT

I’m really proud of what we did here and I think you’ll all like it.

The final battle scene of None Call Me Mother is going to be epic and I’m loving how it’s shaping up. It’s been my primary focus this week. I also added a bunch of foundational stuff to make that battle even more powerful.

Incredibly powerful wizards, great heroes with flashing swords, and brothers fighting each other. It’s a lot of fun.

Wednesday I also got into a bit of a mood and wrote a couple thousand words on the next Edward novel. I’ve been re-reading Spenser and watching Spenser for Hire on Amazon Prime. Makes sense that I want to write some on my Spenser character.

Speaking of Edward, if you get When Valor Must Hold, you get to read how Edward and Deor met along with a bunch of great stories from all the other authors.

Also, I signed the contract for Gates of Hell this week. This is the next 4HU anthology and has my story “Fire from Fire Awakened.” This continues the Foresters’ saga with Rick Blaine working on a loose end from The Feeding of Sorrows.

Have a great week everyone!

What I’m Listening To

The Atlanta Falcons in Dallas to face the Cowboys in 2009. Man, Romo when he was healthy was so good.

Quote of the Week

When I asked the authors to participate in When Valor Must Hold, this was what I told them I wanted. I wanted them to tell me of the days of high adventure!

“Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis, and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of. And unto this, Conan, destined to bear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow. It is I, his chronicler, who alone can tell thee of his saga. Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!”
– Akiro the Wizard, Conan the Barbarian

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother
  • CB (8,418)
  • HM (6,374)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on When Valor Must Hold, which you can find at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086236WMT

Today’s Weight: 399.6

Updated Word Count: 48,342

Shijuren Wiki: In progress

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

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: A Scientific Pursuit

Week 11 of 2020

Greetings all

Made a goodly amount of progress on None Call Me Mother. I have one thread just about completed, a second that’s close, and a third that needs tightening up.

I also made progress on the final battle, which is pretty complex and I’m mapping it out. The best part about it is that I *finally* get to use some of the plants I placed in I Am a Wondrous Thing years ago. I’ve been waiting for some of this the whole time.

My word count actually went down this week as I’ve been clearing out some chaff, too. I’m in the 107k range, though it’s scattered among several files right now as I make sure the threads are complete and tight.

In two weeks, though, you’ll get some new Shijuren stuff for the first time in a while. My story, “What’s in a Name” is in When Valor Must Hold, and it’s how Edward meets Deor. It’s a story I’ve wanted to write for a while, as it’s in my head every time the two of them interact.

Tomorrow, I’m off to quilt stores with my sweetie. She’s got this quilt store quest and I’m driving her about to spend time with her. I’ll actually get some editing done as I sent one thread to my phone and I’ll read it on my Kindle. As I’ve mentioned, it’s great for seeing things in a different way.

Have a great weekend everyone!

What I’m Listening To

Blood Sacrifice Shaman by Tengger Cavalry. The Hu have gotten more popular of late, but these guys were the first Mongolian folk metal band I heard of. Unfortunately, their lead guy died last year. He was a hell of a musician and they’re well worth listening to.

Quote of the Week

John Herschel was born on this date in 1792. This quote from him is true of just about every endeavor.

“Every student who enters upon a scientific pursuit, especially if at a somewhat advanced period of life, will find not only that he has much to learn, but much also to unlearn.”
– John Herschel

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (107,000)
  • RQS (1,312)
  • CB (8,418)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Bill Webb, whose story in When Valor Must Hold is “Island of Bones” and it mixes old school horror and fantasy. You can find my interview of him at: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=2032

Today’s Weight: 398.4

Updated Word Count: 46,597

Shijuren Wiki: Rebuilding

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

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: Fire from Fire Quickened

Week 10 of 2020

Greetings all

Been a pretty good week here. Not much in terms of word count, but that’s because I was putting the final touches on “Fire from Fire Quickened,” my next installment in the Queen Elizabeth’s Own Foresters. I sent it off to CKP today and I hope it’ll be accepted for the next anthology.

I love this story and let me just say, things are getting worse for the Foresters before they’ll get better. If Roosevelt Edmonds were to ever meet me in real life, he’d bop me in the nose. Or worse.

I also managed to finally break through on some technical issues related to the Shijuren wiki. I’ll hopefully be able to get it back up soon, though it’ll take a bit to learn the new version.

Today I began the final push on None Call Me Mother. I’m at that stage in the writing where I have to separate each thread and make sure I follow them to the concluding battle. I have a lot of the concluding battle scribbled in notes here and there, but this will help me block the scene properly. Also, this will help eliminate some redundancies that have cropped up as well as plot holes.

Getting there.

Tomorrow, I’ll pop on over to St. Louis and watch the second Battlehawks home game. The first one was a ton of fun, and I will do my writeup on both weekends on Sunday.

What I’m Listening To

Iron Maiden’s Back in the Village. Not one of their more well-known songs, but like Rush, Iron Maiden’s B-sides are often better than the hits.

Quote of the Week

“I liked working with smart people.”
– Katherine Johnson

I’ll bet that’s what people said about working with you. Godspeed, and thanks for helping us reach the stars.

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (108,716)
  • CB (8,418)
  • RQS (1,312)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on D.J. Butler, whose story “No Trade for Nice Guys” reminded me so much of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, I went back and started reading those again. You can find my interview with him at: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=2021.

Today’s Weight: 396.8

Updated Word Count: 42,769

Shijuren Wiki: Rebuilding

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

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: Purposeful Motion

Week 7 of 2020

Greetings all

It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve had to fight through getting words on the page. I’ve averaged just at 1000 words, but it’s been slow going despite staying at the keyboard.

I did make good progress on my next 4HU short story, and I’m approaching the main battle scene. I’ll have that done next week, though I’ll probably have editing yet still to do.

I also made progress in None Call Me Mother, though this was a bunch of re-arrangement. I have a thread I need to include in the final battle and getting the character there has been challenging. I *think* I have it now, but we’ll see. My word total went down, but as I’m at 108k, that’s fine.

The sweetie requested some small short stories for a project she’s working on. I got a draft of the first one of those written today. That one, at least, came out smoothly and easily.

I also wrote a draft of the Preface for When Valor Must Hold. In other words, it was not a week of legend, but I made progress.

Hopefully, the words will jump off the page next week. If not, I’ll keep plugging away.Have a great week.

What I’m Listening To

Cinderella Man by Rush off of Different Stages. A Farewell to Kings is a fantastic album and one I listen to frequently.

Quote of the Week

If there’s ever a quote an author should here, especially in a week where the words don’t come out easily, this is it.

“Cinderella Man
Hang on to your plans
Try as they might
They cannot steal your dreams”
– Rush, Cinderella Man

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (108,716)
  • CB (8,418)
  • FSS (5,668)
  • RQS (1,312)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Christopher Woods, whose story “Darkness Before the Dawn” inspired the cover of When Valor Must Hold. You can find that interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=2007.

Today’s Weight: 396.4

Updated Word Count: 30,443

Shijuren Wiki: Updating

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

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: Ahead of the Wheel

Week 6 of 2020

Greetings all

It’s been a good week. Last weekend was the final of several postrevels I hosted for the local barony. Weather severely impacted two of them, and the last one tends to be small and relaxed, so this year’s postrevel sequence wasn’t as epic as others have been. Still, in this one a bunch of people had a great conversation, we played Cards Against Humanity, I got a chance to talk late into the night with a baby laurel who I helped spring the surprise upon.

A good time.

Then, Sunday was the Super Bowl. I did a live FB post (which you can find here: https://www.facebook.com/rhodri2112/posts/10158095267396085). I condensed that into my Ramblings post earlier in the week (which you can find here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1990). Overall, I had a good time, though I had to feel bad for the stepdaughter who’s a 49ers fan.

Then I got back to writing. I wrote about 5k on None Call Me Mother with finally connecting two large chunks together. Today, I started writing a new short story following up on The Feeding of Sorrows.

Speaking of which, my publisher informed me that The Feeding of Sorrows just surpassed a million page reads on Kindle Unlimited. How cool is that?

Side note: I actually just re-read The Feeding of Sorrows to make sure I had the voice right and to remember all the details. I hadn’t looked at it since July, and I discovered, to my amazement, it was pretty darn good. This is a bit of surprise. Normally, I look at my stuff from months ago and cringe a bit because I’ve gotten better in the intervening months. Either I haven’t gotten better, or it was pretty good to start with. I think it’s the first, though, because I know several specific things I worked on over the fall as part of editing When Valor Must Hold.

While that’s good news, it means I have to keep working at the craft so I can sustain pretty good.

Anyway, the short story I started today is going to the next 4HU anthology and ties up a loose end in The Feeding of Sorrows. I was not going to cover that lose end in its sequel, but it’s a good mystery and will allow me to add a twist I’ve been contemplating to that thread. Fun stuff.

This weekend I’ll be watching some football. Yes, the Super Bowl was last week, but this week is the XFL. I’m excited about this league. I think it has a chance to succeed because unlike the AAF and others, it has a good financial base, McMahon learned from the previous version, and it’s already injecting new ideas into football. I think some of these things will eventually filter into the NFL, once we see how they work in games. I’m excited about that because I think the NFL needs some shaking up.

With that, I’m going to go toss more words at the page. Have a great week.

What I’m Listening To

Far Cry by Rush. There will come a day when I stop listening to Rush nearly exclusively. Today is not that day.

Quote of the Week

Far Cry has a great message about life.

“One day I feel I’m on top of the world
And the next it’s falling in on me
I can get back on
I can get back on
One day I feel I’m ahead of the wheel
And the next it’s rolling over me
I can get back on
I can get back on”
– Rush, Far Cry

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (108,805)
  • CB (8,418)
  • NFS (1,034)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Quincy J. Allen, a fantastic writer with a great story in When Valor Must Hold that read something like Eddings’ Sparhawk as written by Raymond Chandler. You can find his interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1992.

Today’s Weight: 399.4

Updated Word Count: 27,649

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

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 Art of Valor

Week 4 of 2020

Greetings all

I’m at ChattaCon having a great time. Yesterday was really busy, so I’m only getting to my update today.

When Valor Must Hold
When Valor Must Hold

This past week didn’t really go to plan, and I didn’t have nearly as much time I wanted to write as I hoped for. Since I couldn’t sit down for my normal writing periods, I focused on editing some recent chunks. I solidified several bits and scraps, sort of a 2 steps forward, 1 step back kind of week in terms of word count. The good news is that I’m knocking on 100k in None Call Me Mother.

The great news this week is the reveal of When Valor Must Hold‘s cover. It’s lovely, and I am so pleased this is coming to fruition. I hope it does well not simply because I like sales, but also because if it goes well, I might earn the opportunity to do another. I really enjoyed this process, so I’d like to keep doing it.

That cover will help, I think.

I’m sure there’s more to talk about, but right now, I have to get to a panel. Have a great day, everyone.

What I’m Listening To

Carnies by Rush. I listened to Clockwork Angels, the novel written by Neil Peart and Kevin J. Anderson on the drive to ChattaCon. A good story that made me want to wallow in the album for a while. Best album ever.

Quote of the Week

“How I prayed just to get away
To carry me anywhere
Sometimes the angels punish us
By answering our prayers”
– Rush, Carnies, Clockwork Angels

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (99,639)
  • CB (8,418)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Benjamin Tyler Smith, whose wrote “Hanging by a Thread” in When Valor Must Hold. You can find his interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1965

Today’s Weight: Not sure, on the road

Updated Word Count: Not sure, on the road

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

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 Gifts That You Give

Week 3 of 2020

Greetings all

It’s been a procrasticlean sort of week. I just haven’t really had a ton of focus since Neil died to get much done, combined with an event last weekend, so I only got about 2k written on None Call Me Mother.

I did, however, get really close to finishing my portion of When Valor Must Hold, the fantasy anthology coming out this year. I’m really excited, because all the stories are really good. Team “And More” did very well, not to mention all the cover writers.

One of my upcoming ramblings will be an AAR of this process, by the way.

I also revamped my website a bit. Go to www.robhowell.org if you want to see what I did. I’m still messing around with things a bit, but it’s getting there.

Also, the Shijuren wiki is temporarily down for some maintenance. I want to get that out of the way before releasing None Call Me Mother, as I’ll be adding all the new characters, places, and everything else.

I’ll also be improving a number of pages, cleaning up the info, adding some details, and putting in hints about the series to follow The Kreisens, mostly information about Amaranth and Euskalerria.

In other words, this was stuff that had to be done, so I didn’t waste the week, even if my mind was elsewhere.

What I’m Listening To

Rush. All of it. On repeat. Currently Cygnus X-1 from Different Stages.

Quote of the Week

“The treasure of a life is a measure of love and respect
The way you live, the gifts that you give
In the fullness of time
It’s the only return that you expect”
– Rush, The Garden

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (97,812)
  • CB (8,418)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Cedar Sanderson, one of the people who first read my stuff and gave me useful feedback, for which I’ll be forever grateful. Also, I really enjoyed her story Goddess’s Tears, which will be in When Valor Must Hold. You can find her interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1956 and you can find her on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Cedar-Sanderson/e/B006WFPHO6.

Today’s Weight: 399.7

Updated Word Count: 11,660

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

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: 2020 Visions

Greetings all

Last week, I did a post on just how good 2019 was for me. You can find it here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1912. My conclusion? 2019 was my best year ever.

2020 will be better.

Let’s start with None Call Me Mother. I should have that to my editor within a few weeks. I know it’s been slow. I wanted to have this done in 2018, much less last year. Stuff happened and I apologize. But it’s coming and it’s good.

What will happen in Shijuren after that?

Glad you asked.

This fall I’ll be working on the next Edward novel. I don’t have a working title yet, but it’ll be a bit of an homage to Dick Francis. There’s trouble at Achrida’s Hippodrome and it might hurt horse-racing across the entire Empire of Makhaira if Edward can’t figure it out.

Then, I’ll start another trilogy in Shijuren with different characters based in Amaranth. I’ve said a number of times that chickens are coming home to roost all across Shijuren, and this will tell of roostings in the south.

My plan is to write one Shijuren novel a year, alternating between an Edward novel and whatever other series I’m working on at the time, at least for now. It may end up being one Edward and two series novels, but we’ll see.

I also plan on writing short stories set in the universe. In fact, the first is already written and I’ll get to that in a moment. I’m really enjoying writing short stories in general, and whenever I get a chance to write one in Shijuren, I will.

But wait, there’s more. I’m making progress on creating an OGL d20 based system set in Shijuren. The first embryonic concepts of Shijuren started rolling around my head 25 years ago as a place for great D&D adventures. In many ways, it’s exceeded my expectation in that aspect alone.

The system I have in mind aims to streamline game play with a cool character creation system that allows players to mold characters to fit their own playing style.

It also aims to encourage players to try stupid but fun stuff that isn’t necessarily defined in the rules. Whether it’s trying a crazy tactic, using a skill in an unorthodox manner, or using magic in a weird way to save the day, it’ll be designed to give DMs guidelines to react to players making stuff up on the fly.

The biggest challenge I’ve faced in this so far has been how to mold my magic system into a usable system for a game. It’s a great magic system from a writing perspective, but it hadn’t been obvious how to translate it to gaming. However, I’ve finally come up with what I think is a really cool plan that ought to be a lot of fun.

Creating a game system is a big project, even with many of the basics already built in from the OGL side of things. I’m blessed to have some skilled and talented friends who will be helping along the way. I’ll tell you all more about them later.

I don’t have a specific timeline for getting this game published, but at some point, hopefully in 2020, I’ll be at cons running some playtest adventures as well as starting a home group.

What you can expect is periodic updates. I might even add a category in my Weekly Updates related to game concepts and ideas.

As you can see, though, Shijuren is going to grow a ton in the next few years. Thanks for coming along.

Of course, I’ve got a bunch more planned for 2020 than just Shijuren, including The Four Horsemen Universe. After I finish None Call Me Mother, my long form work in progress will be the sequel to The Feeding of Sorrows.

I have lots of stuff to play with in here.

  • What are Edmonds and Tahnerif going to do?
  • I promised Jackson a platoon. What’s going to happen to his momma’s boy?
  • Kiial will definitely have more to say about his uncle as his time in the Foresters continues.
  • Speaking of the uncle, Tlanit and Rick Blaine are going to work at peeling away some of the layers.

Going to be fun.

I’m actually going to describe some of this in a short story in another Four Horsemen anthology coming out in 2020. Right now, I’m playing with a number of ideas, but rest assured, there’s more happening with the Foresters.

Speaking of short stories, I’ll be contributing to the second We Dare, anthology. The story I’m working on will be a prequel to “The Chaos of Well-Seeming Forms,” my story in the first anthology. We might just find out why the Allardecks and Fieldings hate each other. This will also be fun, as I’ll be collaborating for the first time. Yvonne Jacobs is already helping me plan the story.

I intend to do four or five short stories for anthologies each year, so don’t be surprised if I announce a couple more later in the year. I’ve been asked to be a part of some others already, but I’m still trying to balance my writing schedule.

That doesn’t include, by the way, the return of Nick Patara, PI. I’ve enjoyed the response and I had a great time writing it. I also enjoyed being able to give back to you guys.

The next big news comes from a comment above, I mentioned that I’ve submitted a Shijuren story to an anthology already.

And this one is special.

Chris Kennedy gave me the opportunity to create a anthology of fantasy stories. It will be entitled When Valor Must Hold.

The writing prompt I gave the authors was the opening of Conan the Barbarian, where Akira the Wizard concludes, “Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!”

The authors have given me what I wanted: stories with adventures and action across a really broad set of fantasy sub-genres. It’s a great mix and I think you’ll like it a lot. Heroic deeds done by characters who might not start as heroes but end up in that category. The characters all face things to test their valor and we shall see how their valor holds.

The anticipated release date is 20 March, which is the Friday of FantaSci. We plan to have a great release party there and I hope to celebrate with a bunch of you.

This brings me to my plans for Howell’s Howls this year. I really enjoyed my system of having a blog post Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Rob’s Updates will continue on Fridays. I’m going to tweak the format a bit, like including game notes each week, but it’ll continue much the same.

I’m also going to continue with the interviews. I just finished re-writing the questions I send out, so you’ll see some new interviews by people who I’ve already interviewed. I’m going to start the year with interviews of authors in When Valor Must Hold, and run those interviews as long as it takes.

Hit me up if you’re a creator of any type, and I’ll send you the questions and get you into the queue. I really enjoy doing these and hope to be more proactive about making sure I have an interview ready to go each week.

That brings us to Mondays. Mag Reviews take a ton of time, too much for just a regular blog post. I’m going to replace them with Rob’s Ramblings, which will be a catchall thing for whatever interests me. including reviews of movies and albums, snippets, poems, sports topics, or whatever. This week, it was my ShadowCon AAR. One post you can expect in March is an AAR about creating When Valor Must Hold. It’s already taught me a bunch.

This does not mean Mag Reviews will go away. They take too long as a blog post, but there’s a still a place for them and I’m playing with some ideas.

Overall, my online presence will continue as it has been. In September, I stopped reading my Facebook News Feed. This was a great decision on my part. I miss out on a number of things, but that News Feed brought me down.

I check my Facebook Notifications consistently, though, and that’s been enough. If you want me to see something, please tag me and I’ll check it out. Otherwise, I’m almost never going to see anything.

I originally planned to limit my Facebook posts to business-related things, but I think I’ll start posting about the same frequency I did prior to last September. I’ve missed chatting with people about a variety of fun things and while I’ll never go back to reading the News Feed, I’ll get back to posting fun things along with my professional stuff.

The same is basically true on Twitter. I have always limited my Twitter feed to focus on some excellent sports bloggers and other interests like that, along with professional stuff. I will continue to look at those sorts of things, so if you want me to see something, you better tag me.

I’ve played around with MeWe, but the interface has yet to click with me. I’ll keep trying though. I’ll also keep dabbling in Instagram. This might expand with some of the other things I’ve got going on. I’ll also keep my eyes open for better social media options.

My appearance schedule in 2020 is going to be amazing. The biggest news is, of course, I got accepted as an Attending Professional at DragonCon this year. What an amazing honor. I will do my best to reward them for giving me the chance.

I also received word this weekend that I’ve been approved as a vendor at Dagorhir’s Ragnarok XXXV in June. This is a major LARPing event and I am excited to meet a bunch of people and introduce Shijuren to them.

I’ll be at LibertyCon again. None of what’s happened above would be possible without the lessons and experiences I’ve had at LibertyCons past. It’s really pushed me along and I’m incredibly grateful to Brandy and her peeps.

The expansion of Drix’s shop at Pennsic last year went well, and it’ll be even better this year. We’ve had a great time there and sales keep inching up there for me.

As I mentioned, we hope to have a great release party for When Valor Must Hold at FantaSci. I picked FantaSci over Gulf Wars, Planet Comicon in Kansas City, and a bunch of other events on the weekend of 20 March. Why did everything have to be then? In any case, even without the release party, I would go to FantaSci. It’s already a great con.

My next event is ChattaCon in a few weeks. It’ll be a blast, in part because Lani Brooks puts me on a bunch of panels.

Let’s see, do I have my yearly goals covered in 2020?

  • 2-3 novels: Check. I hope to have two by September and be working on the Edward novel in the fall.
  • 4-5 short stories (plus Nick Patara): I have one in the can, two planned, and some opportunities to juggle. I can’t say this is fully laid out, but I anticipate no real problems.
  • 3 blog posts per week: Mag Reviews made that really challenging, and I expect to be more consistent here. I won’t stress too much if I miss out on one of the weekly standards, but it’s a reasonable, feasible schedule
  • Figure out a way to make Mag Reviews work: I’m playing around with this. Probably won’t happen for a while, but there’s value here.
  • Make progress on the RPG: Meetings are scheduled and I anticipate consistent activity on this front. Again, I don’t have a realistic timeline, just a plan to turn it from vaporware into something real.
  • Create a smart travel schedule: Spring is fairly light, and will be productive from a writing standpoint. Summer will be go go go and I’ll have many miles on the road. Fall will be light, much like spring. This past fall, I didn’t go to any cons after September. I will add a con or two because I think more than three months is too much of a break from going to a con.
  • Take care of myself: I’m starting with being more conscious of things, as shown by pacing my travel schedule better. I’m also going to adjust my summer production expectations to match reality. Finally, I’m going to schedule some down time/vacation/retreat type things. No details yet, but they’ll be there.
  • Get back to fighting: This includes working out and losing weight. I’ve a helm on order and I can’t really fight until it gets here, but I can work out. I’ll have a plan for that soon.

I look at these goals and am getting even more excited. None of them seem outlandish and if I complete them, it’ll make 2020 amazing.

Now that I have a plan, I think I’ll watch the Blues and play a game for a while. Then, tomorrow, write a chapter or two in None Call Me Mother.

It’s going to be a great 2020.

 

 

 

Rob’s Update: 2019 in Review

Greetings all

2019 was my best year ever. Thanks to all the readers who supported my writing throughout the year. It couldn’t have happened without you.

Things I published in 2019:

I’m incredibly pleased at the success of these stories. Four of those, including all 3 Phases of Mars anthologies and The Feeding of Sorrows, earned at least one orange tag.

An orange tag on Amazon signifies it’s a bestseller. Now I can add “Amazon Bestselling Author” to my bio. That’s pretty darn awesome.

I’m also pleased that I still love all six of these tales. I am never pleased with the quality of writing in any of my past stories, because with each new one I get better. However, the tales are all good. I know this because I still cry at the end of each one.

If I don’t get emotional reading my stuff, I can’t expect you to do so either. I still get emotional on all of them.

The biggest negative of 2019 is that I didn’t get None Call Me Mother published. I had even hoped to make progress on Edward 4, but that was always only a faint hope.

Despite that, I’m not displeased with my writing output. I’m up to 93k on None Call Me Mother, so it’s getting close. I chose to write The Feeding of Sorrows instead and it was a great decision.

I also chose to follow Bill Fawcett’s advice. He said to me at LibertyCon in 2018 that I should write more short stories. I’d be an idiot if I didn’t pay attention to him. I may yet be an idiot, but not about this.

My goal is two or three novels a year and four or more short stories. I came really close if I count the words I actually wrote in 2019. I wrote about 75k of The Feeding of Sorrows and about 20k towards its sequel. I wrote about 80k in None Call Me Mother in 2019. I also worked on a couple of special projects I’ll announce when I post my look ahead to 2020. All told, I submitted six short stories (one yet to come), and wrote about 175k of long fiction. 230k or so of fiction is not shabby.

I did this despite not taking care of myself. Following Pennsic, I spent 5-6 weeks in a funk. This was driven initially by fatigue, because I traveled a ton this past summer. Then my brain weasels got involved, chastising me for not being productive, and that spiraled down.

Fortunately, I recovered in time to complete all of the items I had promised to various editors. Had I paid attention to myself, though, I believe I would have finished None Call Me Mother. Ah, well.

I have adjustments planned for 2020. One challenge of being self-employed is that I have to play mental games with myself to keep me from doing stupid stuff, like losing those 5-6 weeks.

I went to a number of fantastic events in 2019. This was my first year as a vendor on my own at Gulf Wars. Drix and I also expanded our booth at Pennsic, and this is exciting. LibertyCon was wonderful and emotional. FantaSci went great, not great for a first time con, but great. So great I’m choosing it over Gulf Wars and Planet Comicon in 2020.

I did all these things while also getting the opportunity to serve as Their Majesty Calontir’s herald in the first half of the year. I love doing that job. Thanks to Donnghal and Catalina for giving me that opportunity. And yes, you totally got me.

My sweetie and I did a bunch of work to the house. We replaced around 1000 sq. ft. of carpet with bamboo. I love this stuff. Nice on my feet and pretty. We also started a new additional closet in the master suite, which had a ton of useless inefficient space.

The closest thing to a true negative are my tracked items, I spun my wheels a bit. I gained a little weight, though I’ve made it through most of the holidays without gaining much extra. My tracked word count, which includes only those things I actually released to the editor or on my blog, would have exceeded my goal had I managed to get None Call Me Mother to my editor, but of course will fall short in its actual number.

My wiki suffered a hacking attack in the spring. I have recovered most of the lost things, but I plan on redoing most entries. I learned a ton working on the 4HU wiki for nearly a year that I intend on incorporating. I’ll talk about that in my 2020 post.

These are my end results. I’ll work on improving them all in 2020.

Today’s Weight: 395.2

Updated Word Count: 146,912

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

I have so many people to thank. I’m going to take a crack at it, but will undoubtedly forget some people. But here’s what I can think of right now with a cat demanding petsies.

Mom, sweetie, and proto-incipient step-daughter come first. Living with a writer ain’t easy.

Chris Kennedy gave me a bunch of opportunities. I can’t thank him enough. James L. Young let me write in all 3 Phases of Mars, and those are good stories. Jamie Ibson let me break his soul in We Dare. Mark Wandrey kept encouraging me, especially his help in the 4HU. Kevin Ikenberry helped a ton with the Peacemaker aspects of my 4HU stuff. Frankly, let’s just thank all of the crew that Chris has gathered about him. They’re all making me better.

Kellie Hultgren did a great job editing my personal stuff and teaching me how to become a better writer. The staff at Brewbakers put up with me, and I rewarded them with tuckering it in “Silent Knight.”

Drix helped me grow my SCA sales presence. Tons of people encouraged me. One even allowed me to stay at her family’s lake house for a week of writing and solitude. I need to schedule this sort of thing once or twice a year.

Despite not getting None Call Me Mother out and spinning my wheels a bit, 2019 was definitely my best year so far. And it’s not close.

I’m growing leaps and bounds as a writer. My most recent project has helped me turn things I knew instinctively into things I understand. This is already showing up in None Call Me Mother and in “Silent Knight,” not to mention my earlier growth in 2019.

2019 was my best year.

2020 will be better. Lot’s better. We’re building something here and I will tell you all about what’s coming in a few days.

For now, though. Thanks to all of you. I really appreciate it.

Happy New Year!

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
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Four Horsemen Universe
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