Rob’s Update: The One Constant

Week 13 of 2018

Greetings all

First, thanks to all the people who joined the mailing list at Gulf Wars. I finally got a chance to add you this week.

This week in general was a week of catching up on things that need doing. I added a new regular feature to the blog, which I hope will become a weekly event. I’ll be interviewing a number of independent creators with a partly whimsical set of questions that will still talk about different creative methods. I think it’ll be pretty fun for all of us.

The big project this week has been catching up on A Lake Most Deep audiobook files. Yes, you read that right, the audiobook is a-coming round the mountain. All the chapters have now been recorded, and I’m going through each one to catch any mistakes. I’m still not sure of a release date, but by the end of next week I will have gone through all the recordings. We’re getting close there.

That took away from my writing, though, so I’m only around 54000 words in Brief Is My Flame, though I’m really pleased with where things are going. The two main threads are both progressing, and each have the kind of action I lead to read.

If I don’t enjoy reading a book, I can’t expect you to enjoy it either, and I’m enjoying it.

Current Playlist Song

“Gaudete” by Steeleye Span

I just got a new Steeleye Span album, which I will soon add to my writing playlist. Another is on the way. If you don’t know these guys, they do a bunch of traditional English and British Isles folk songs and mixing them with the 60s and 70s folk and rock traditions. Great stuff, especially “Saucy Sailor,” one of my favorite songs.

Quote of the Week

Today is opening day of baseball. In my mind, this should be a national holiday, so this week’s quote is a longer one. However, it’s a great one, delivered by a fantastic actor.

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh…people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”
― Terence Mann (James Earl Jones), Field of Dreams

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (1,144)
  • AFS (2,681)
  • Brief Is My Flame (53,872)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Chaz Kemp, who is a great artist and also my guinea pig on the new interview feature. The interview link is here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=976.

Also, you can find his website here: https://www.chazkemp.com/.

Today’s Weight: 388.4

Updated Word Count: 20,753

Shijuren Wiki: 741 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 226 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

Interview – Chaz Kemp

Greetings all

I’m starting a new semi-regular thing. As you probably know, I do a Spotlight on some artist, author, or vendor each week in my updates. This will be an expanded version of that, where I’ll interview some great independent and up-and-coming creators. I’ll ask hard-hitting questions like “What is their favorite Muppet?”

In truth, while I’ll be phrasing this in a light-hearted way, it is my hope that these interviews will have provide a little insight in their creative process. Remember, there’s one true creative process, and it’s the one that helps you create, but that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t learn what works for others.

I’m lucky to start off with Chaz Kemp. I met Chaz as part of Pandora Celtica when they came to house for a house with Sooj Tucker. It was an amazing show, and all of them gave me a bunch of CDs. I’ve listened to those over and over, and some are on the playlist that helps me write.

However, Chaz is not only a drummer and a singer, but also an excellent artist often focusing on Steampunk themes, such as this one:

You can find his work at:

The Interview

What is your quest?

To continue creating a multi-cultural steampunk/fantasy world called Ashelon by using my own Art Nouveau styled illustrations.  We’re also including novellas and short stories written by my wife, Carolyn Kay and other authors to help flesh out that world.

I want my dream and passion for Ashelon to be something amazing that fans can really groove on.

What is your favorite color?

I love creating my art digitally by using a vector-based program called CorelDraw.  It’s like Adobe Illustrator but I find it more versatile.  Through years of honing my technique, I can make my pieces feel more natural and the colors more vibrant while still embracing the illustrative quality I love so much. 

I also enjoy the way that I can make changes to my art on the fly by switching out colors, body positioning and even the backgrounds without having to take hours or even days repainting things just to try something new.

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

As a freelance artist, one of my biggest hurdles involved gaining respect.  I went out of my way to treat my clients with respect and kindness, but they didn’t always feel the need to reciprocate early in my career.

It took time to learn that I had the power to say ‘no’ when faced with the prospect of working with someone who wasn’t going to treat me well.  I could also say ‘no’ when a potential client didn’t want to adequately compensate me for the work I was to do for them.  As I won more awards and gained more of a reputation for doing good work, I ran into fewer problems.

Another challenge came with the frustration of trying to get in with big name companies like many of the New Age companies or table top RPG leaders. They just wouldn’t write back to me.

After talking with a few industry ‘insiders’ I discovered that most of those art directors don’t actually care about the artist or their art, all they really care about is whether they think the artist can make them money.  As an example, photo-realism is the hot style right now, so that’s all they’re interested in and those are the only artists they’re willing to hire. If I were a photo-realistic artist, all I’d ever be to them is a thing that made them money. So truthfully, getting rejected by them was actually them doing me a favor.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I feel that while I am inspired by the Art Nouveau movement and by Alphonse Mucha in particular, I don’t directly copy him.  I take the style and make it my own.  I love that many people can see his inspiration in my work.

I’m also quite proud of the fact that several of my main characters are multi-cultural because there isn’t enough of that in the Steampunk genre.  In reality, the 1800s happened everywhere, not just in Victorian England. So why have art centered around one culture when I can explore the ideas of Steampunk in every culture? When you do that, the ideas are endless and ongoing. Not only that, but we get to have multiple cultures represented in a way that you don’t normally see them and that’s just too cool.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet?  Pepe the King Prawn – he’s quite hilarious.
  • Crunchy or Creamy?  Crunchy when it comes to peanut butter… Creamy when it comes to soup.
  • Favorite Sports Team?  Denver Nuggets all the way.
  • Cake or Pie?  Pie for sure… there are more varieties of pie and most of them are DELICIOUS!!
  • Lime or Lemon?  Lemon
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Bean dip FTW
  • Wet or Dry?  Wet when it comes to drinks like Moscow Mules – Dry when it comes to computers and socks.
  • Favorite Musical Performer we’ve Never Heard Of? Mark King of Level 42 – he’s a good song writer and singer, but an AMAZING bass player.
  • Whisky or Whiskey?  Whiskaaaaaaaay!!
  • Steak Temperature?   Medium Well (ed. note: Sigh, it could be worse I suppose)
  • Favorite 1970s TV show?  Wonder Woman
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall?  Summer – perfect beach weather.
  • Favorite Pet?  Our cats Sif and Naira.
  • Coffee or Tea?  Coffee hands down!
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy?  Fantasy every time.  The closest I get to Sci-Fi is either cyber punk (Which is cool) or Steampunk (Which is awesome)

What question would you like to ask me?

The fact that you have SO much information about your world of Shijuren is amazing.  I’d love to develop that level of detail for my world of Ashelon!  How long did it take you to create your world and what inspired you to do it?  

My Answer: It’s not really something I do all at once. I just use whatever inspiration comes to mind. If I run across something interesting, I toss that in.

One of my most useful tools is Wikipedia’s random article button. I will literally sit in front of a football game or something like that and just click it. Every time I see something interesting, I cut and paste into a Notes document. Then, when I am looking for something, a town, a new character, inspiration for an event, whatever, I glance at that. The randomness helps keep me from doing the things I always fall back upon.

I have also had help from people like Adam Hale, who does all the maps for me. I gave him license to add geographic details and names, based on certain parameters, and that helps shape strategic and tactical choices by my characters.

I love worldbuilding. I do a little bit here, a little bit there, and then suddenly there’s a thing.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

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

You should have asked, “What game are you currently grooving on?”  I would respond with Cards Against Humanity!!  We just had dinner at a friend’s house this past weekend where we played CaH and I laughed so hard, my face hurt the whole rest of the weekend.  So much fun!!

******

Speaking of fun, I enjoyed this quite a bit. I will start doing these on as many Tuesdays as I have one ready.

Thanks very much to Chaz for being the guinea pig and helping shape these questions. I know I’ll be seeing Chaz at ConQuest on Memorial Day. I suspect you’ll find us sharing a beverage at some point there.

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: Home Sweet Home

Week 12 of 2018

Greetings all

I’m back and mostly recovered from Gulf Wars. From a professional point of view, it was a productive time. I got lots written. I’ve finally broken the 50k barrier in Brief Is My Flame while tossing some towards None Call Me Mother.

I also sold enough to pay the gas and site fee. With this success, I made some new plans to expand my merchanting by getting my own booth at Gulf. I’m excited as it’s another step forward for me.

However, I did not have as much fun as I have had at such events before. These two things are not unrelated.

Basically, I came home from fairly long days and simply didn’t have as much energy as I wished to participate in the fun. Mostly, this was because I was so tired of talking to people that I needed to retreat.

Next year I’ll have my own spot, which will hopefully make things go a little smoother since I won’t be juggling two different camps. I won’t be on the corner in Calontir, but frankly, when I got home after working I wasn’t able to do the job of welcoming people to Calontir properly anyway. I’ll miss that spot, which I’ve occupied for the past fifteen years or so, but it’s time to move on.

I’d been contemplating expanding my wares to include stuff on consignment, other books, CDs, stuff we’ll make when we get a shop, and things that Giulia wants to make. By July I hope to have enough to sell to reasonably fill the front of my pavilion.

Over the past few years, Master Andrixos, the greatest trim monger I know and the owner of Calontir Trim, has greatly helped me. He’s taught me much of what’s involved in being a merchant and he’s done me any number of favors. I can’t thank him enough for his help.

But it’s time for me to have my own home at most events.

Current Playlist Song

Humorously, as I talk about taking the next leap into the wine-dark sea, the current song is Styx’s “Come Sail Away.”

Quote of the Week

Today’s quote is how my life seems as my professional life adapts alongside the personal one. I see a great future, but I have to muddle my way through the present.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

– Bilbo Baggins, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (1,144)
  • AFS (2,681)
  • Brief Is My Flame (50,597)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Nothing new but check the blog on Tuesday as I’ll be adding a recurring feature.

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Kevin Ikenberry, who just released a new novel in the Four Horsemen Universe. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Honor-Threat-Revelations-Cycle-Book-ebook/dp/B07BFWWL9W/

Today’s Weight: 387.8

Updated Word Count: 19,046

Shijuren Wiki: 741 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 195 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

Rob’s Update: Truly, the Warrior Never Dies

Week 11 of 2018

I’ve been at Gulf Wars all week long and it’s been, as usual, productive. I spend the day in Calontir Trim writing and talking to customers. I sell pretty well, and I get lots of words on the page.

Today has been a little slow, though, as I shut down the Calontir Party last night. I might have needed a nap.

We’ve another day and a half of sales, then hoping to pack out on Saturday. We’ll see though, as the day tends to be really long. If I can do it, though, I can get to Hattiesburg, maybe even Jackson, and Sunday’s drive is much easier because I start earlier with a good shower.

As with all wars, it will be good to get home and see my sweetie. These events are lots of fun, and, as I’ve already said, productive, but they are also exhausting.

Current Playlist Song: None, actually, as I’m sitting in a tent listening to the wind blow the canvas and people having fun stepping out of time.

Quote of the Week

We always sing Warrior’s Wyrd by Ivar Battleskald many times during Gulf Wars. This year we sang it in honor of one of our own, Duane Nelson, who lost his battle with cancer this past weekend. The last line is: “If you do sing his song, truly the warrior never dies.”

Here’s us singing this song in honor of Ostwald, who passed while we were at SCA 50 Year last summer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj9TsprIgOk

I wrote this snippet a few weeks ago and it’s part of Brief Is My Flame: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=927. That’s Sveinn’s song I’m singing.

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (1144)
  • AFS (2681)
  • Brief Is My Flame (46,713)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Nothing new to add as I’ve been at Gulf Wars

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

Today, I’ll spotlight Quincy J. Allen, who has written quite a few things in quite a few styles. You can find his work at: https://www.amazon.com/Quincy-J.-Allen/e/B009C9C5SA/

Today’s Weight: No scales at the war

Updated Word Count: 18355

Shijuren Wiki: 741 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 187 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

Rob’s Update: The Wind-Swept Sky

Week 10 of 2018

Wow, what a week it has been. Since the last time we talked, I took my sweetie on a mini-vacation, wrote a bunch, and traveled many hundreds of miles. I sit at the moment in the Keg and Barrel in Hattiesburg, MS getting some work done.

The mini-vacation was excellent. We roamed around western Iowa, starting off with the Lucky Pig restaurant in Ogden. It was pretty darn tasty, and the pig was especially lucky since we had steaks.

Then we headed to the Hotel Pattee in Perry, IA. This place is awesome. It’s beautiful, with an excellent restaurant, and a pretty good, if limited bar. Each room is themed. We stay in the Welsh Room, which had a Dylan Thomas quote (not the one you expect) painted in both English and Welsh as well as a collection of his poetry. The furniture is all antiques, and there were a variety of Welsh-themed items like a framed version of “Men of Harlech” with both the lyrics and music.

We’ll be back. In fact, we should have stayed there the next night, but we’ll get back to that in a moment.

We left the Hotel Pattee to go south to Winterset, which is the home of the Iowa Quilt Museum and John Wayne’s Birthplace. It also has a yarn store, a quilt store, some interesting antique places, and a great cafe. Well worth the time to spend a weekend there.

From that point we headed west towards Omaha. We stayed the night in Greenfield, but the Greenfield hotel was not what we hoped. The lobby and exterior are beautiful, and the room was a step above a motel, but it was essentially much like staying at a Motel 6, only about twice the price. Will not go back.

On the way back we stopped at what I call a Swiss restaurant. It’s Moreau Backerei and Pizzeria. A French name of a German bakery serving italian food is about the most Swiss thing ever. It was quite good. Will go back.

From there we headed home, with one side trip to Red Oak, IA. Red Oak is about an hour from Omaha, but there was a beautiful house that my sweetie thought might be worth that kind of a commute and we were able to get to see it. It is, indeed, a beautiful house, in our price range, and with all we want. Except a back yard. Probably won’t be our choice. Sigh.

Anyway, it was a great trip. We got back in time for me to do final preparations and some writing. I made a lot of progress, again writing about 10k words, though only a couple of thousand will show on the total for Brief Is My Flame as more keeps getting added to None Call Me Mother. As I get closer to finishing a draft for Brief Is My Flame, I’ll start organizing the leftovers and providing you a running total of None Call Me Mother. Expect that to start in April.

Now I’m in Hattiesburg, and tomorrow I’ll get on site for Gulf Wars. I set up my tent tomorrow. Saturday we set up Calontir Trim and my portion of the booth. Sunday through Saturday we sell, and then pack up on Sunday the 18th and leave.

In the past I’ve written quite a bit at wars, because I sit there with my laptop in the booth and write until people come up. I expect to be close to a final draft of Brief Is My Flame by the end of the week, with a goal to get it out by the end of the month.

With that, I’ll get back to writing… and trying local IPAs.

Current Playlist Song: None, since I’m sitting in a place that actually doesn’t really play music overhead. So, I’ll pick something I’ve heard recently. The first song on the trip was Chic’s “Le Freak.” Disco is a guilty pleasure. I grew up in the 70s. Sue me.

Quote of the Week

Any week is a good time for a Kipling quote, but after roaming and finding treasures in Iowa and now coming to an SCA war where there are always 15 seconds of magic that make the trip worthwhile just by themselves, this quote comes to mind:

“The wild hawk to the wind-swept sky,
The deer to the wholesome wold,
And the heart of a man to the heart of a maid,
As it was in the days of old.”
– Rudyard Kipling, “The Gipsy Trail”

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (1144)
  • AFS (2681)
  • Brief Is My Flame (42,288)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Nothing much because of travel

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

Today’s spotlight is on a guy I want to read more of, but have barely touched so far: Michael Scott Earle. He’s got quite a bit, with a pulp and early SF feel, and you can find his stuff at: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Scott-Earle/e/B019QSNVA2/

Today’s Weight: 384.8

Updated Word Count: 17,821

Shijuren Wiki: 740 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 187 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

Rob’s Update: The World is Loaded

Week 9 of 2018

Greetings all

Sorry that I’m a day late on my update. I was exhausted last night from not sleeping well the previous two nights, and I just went to bed early.

However, it was a pretty good week of writing with both Brief Is My Flame and None Call Me Mother. I mentioned last week that I had an epiphany and realized I needed to go about something backwards. I’ve cleaned up Brief Is My Flame, which sent 1000s of words to None Call Me Mother, but I have also broken the 40k barrier. Major progress there.

This despite a week focused on helping my sweetie through a major work thing. That’s done, and we’re going to take a mini-vacation starting tonight. We’ll ramble our way to Minneapolis generally on the blue highways.

If you don’t know the term blue highways, it comes from a book by the same name. It’s an amazing book, on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Highways-Journey-into-America-ebook/dp/B006BAW16O/. I just finished re-reading it, as a matter of fact.

We’ll see how much work I get done this week as we ramble. My sweetie has been working hard to get over this hump, and I want her to have a good time. I do have some sections just jumping out, though, so when I get opportunities, I’ll be productive.

This past week, I also went through and cleaned up my list of potential conventions. It’s something I’ve needed to do for a while, but part of that is because my sweetie kinda wants to know when I’ll be gone ahead of time. Shocking, I know. Anyway, I’ve added a number of upcoming events on that list. I have several others that I’m waiting on confirmation. Most of 2018 should be mapped out soon.

Now I’d better pack.

Current Playlist Song: Stop! by Jane’s Addiction. This is the opening song on Ritual de la Habitual, and it is one of my top five albums of all time. The radio song, Been Caught Stealing, is the one mediocre song on the album and Three Days might be may favorite song ever.

Quote of the Week

Quite possibly my favorite comedian provides this week’s quote:

I busted a mirror and got seven years bad luck, but my lawyer thinks he can get me five.
– Steven Wright

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (1144)
  • AFS (2681)
  • Brief Is My Flame (40676)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

J.F. Holmes has his Dragon award nominated Invasion, Book I: Resistance ebook for free on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0716YCLH4.

Today’s Weight: 386.2

Updated Word Count: 16796

Shijuren Wiki: 741 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 170 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