Rob’s Update: The Swooping Spotted Hawk

Week 22 of 2018

Greetings all

I had a great time at ConQuest last weekend. Met some cool people, sold a few books, learned some things. Good stuff. My complete AAR is here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1142.

The first edited copies of Brief Is My Flame are starting to come in. I’m truly humbled by all the work my Advance Reader Team is doing for me. Thanks for helping me make a better book.

It’s clear to me that I’m getting more skilled at the technical aspects of writing. I have dramatically reduced certain mistakes that I commonly made in A Lake Most Deep. I still have a long way to go, of course, but it’s progress. I may not be designing better furniture and it may not have fantastic decoration, but at least I’m building the items better than ever.

This weekend is Wichicon, a small con held as part of Wichita’s Riverfest. I don’t that it will be a great selling con, but Wichita is home and it’s a chance to see Mom.

Today, I’ll start going through some of the edits, though next week will be when I start focusing on that. I’ve also started the short story for the next 4HU anthology. I’m in the throw words at the page and wait for me to make some sort of connection that actually turns into a story.

Current Playlist Song

“Piano Man” by Billy Joel. I know it’s overplayed, but I really appreciate the line “they’re sharing a drink called loneliness.” I’ve been there often enough.

Quote of the Week

Today is Walt Whitman’s birthday, so this quote seems obvious to me. He was so good with evocative language. We remember this part of Song of Myself mostly because of the “barbaric yawp” and perhaps Robin Williams in Dead Poet Society, but here’s more just to give the ‘yawp’ its context.

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,

I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds,

It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,

I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,

If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,

And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

– Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (2,007)
  • AFS (2,681)
  • LD (819)
  • Brief Is My Flame (106,000 exactly)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Gray Rinehart, a talented musician, editor, and writer. You can find my interview of him at: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1145 and his website is: http://graymanwrites.com.

Today’s Weight: 392.4

Updated Word Count: Too many computers, the count file is on the desktop

Shijuren Wiki: 756 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 349 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

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

Interview: Gray Rinehart

This week’s interview is with Gray Rinehart. My first experience with Gray was at LibertyCon, where he was the toastmaster. He performed a fun filk of Major Tom so I listened to some of his other music. It’s very good, and even appeared on the Dr. Demento show. I intend to add some to my booth in future events.

He’s also a writer and editor, currently serving as Baen’s ‘Slushmaster General’  while publishing a number of short stories and a novel. Oh, and he was in the Air Force, serving a career that sounds fascinating, though probably the kind of thing he can’t entirely discuss.

Anyway, let’s hear from the man himself.

Interview: Gray Rinehart

What is your quest?

I seek the Grayl … it’s a bit like a Grail … no, to be honest, it’s nothing like a Grail … it’s uglier, and less useful.

More seriously (perhaps too seriously?), my writing quest is to write things that ring true.  Obviously nonfiction ought to do more than “ring” true, and the “truth” of music is something a bit different from the truth of a text, but we’re mostly talking about fiction.  In my fiction, I want the story to feel real, to feel true, to the reader even when it’s obviously not true.  I want to convey a sense of reality even in the unreality of the story.

Gray Rinehart

What is your favorite color?

Grey!  No, wait:  orange!  [Aaaah….] (Rob’s note: Finally, someone with the right answer 🙂 )

Speaking of things I didn’t get right when I started writing, it took me a long time to grasp the fundamentals of point of view. I’m a long way from mastering it, but I think I’ve gotten better at staying consistently with a character and delving deeper into what that character is thinking and feeling at any given moment of the story.  I think (I hope?) that adds to the overall realism I want my stories to have.

In addition, I try to make sure my characters have some emotional depth — not that they wear their hearts on their sleeves, but that they process through emotions in ways that readers find appropriate.  If something happens to them or to people they care about, whether it’s good or bad, I try to show their reactions and to make those reactions fit the characters’ personalities.

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

If it’s one of my wife’s paintbrushes that she’s flung at me for some snide comment I’ve made, those things fly at near lightspeed….

Walking on the Sea of Clouds

In terms of things I had to learn the hard way, I mentioned above that point of view has been difficult for me.  Back when I was still in the Air Force, but I was trying (after a long hiatus) to write fiction, I gave a story to a friend to read.  He turned out to be that most valuable kind of friend who would actually tell me the truth — and in this case, the truth was that the story was awful, largely because I had no idea how to handle POV.  I still struggle with it at times, whether I’m trying to capture the POV of one character or other and stay consistently in that POV within a scene, or just trying to figure out whose POV to use in a particular scene.  I don’t know that I’ll ever master it.

And, just to be clear:  That story remains unpublished!  One day I may try to fix all its many problems.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

“Three shall be the number thou shalt count …”  These questions are awesome, by the way. (Rob’s note: Thank you, and again with the right answers 😀 )

I feel as if my strength lies in stringing words together to form coherent and hopefully interesting sentences.  My skills tend to falter, though, when I’m trying to put those sentences together to form stories.  Sure, sentences become paragraphs and paragraphs become scenes and scenes become stories, but I find that I’m not a natural storyteller.  As a result, beyond the mechanical level of words and sentences, writing is hard for me.

I liken it to carpentry.  I’m a pretty fair journeyman carpenter.  I can frame something that’ll be solid, and I can even do some fair finish work, but I’m not a very good architect.  I have a tendency to forget certain features, or to neglect the building code, so the end result will stand firm but it may not be the prettiest house on the block.  So in my fiction the prose itself will be fine, but it’s hard for me to make the narrative live up to the narration.

Truths, Lies, Make Believe

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? I’m not a drummer, but I always get a kick out of Animal.
  • Crunchy or Creamy?  Creamy!  (Or, if you prefer, smooth….)
  • Favorite Sports Team?  Clemson Tigers, in whatever sport they’re playing.
  • Cake or Pie?  As much as I like cake, I’d give a good chocolate chess pie the nod over most near anything. (Rob’s note: NOM!)
  • Lime or Lemon?  You’ve got me thinking about pies, so I’d go with lemon, as in lemon meringue pie.  (Although lemon bars are good, too….)
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Crab dip.
  • Wet or Dry?  Dry rub, whether on ribs or any other to-be-barbequed meat, but I do enjoy a good barbeque sauce on the side.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?  This question hurts my head!  How do I know who you’ve heard of and not heard of?  And how am I supposed to decide on a favorite, especially when so many of my family and friends are musicians and singers?
  • Whisky or Whiskey?  Whiskey with an “e”, please.
  • Favorite Superhero?  Hard to say, but for a different reason than with the musician question above:  I’m not much of a superhero fan.  I suppose of all the superheroes I know about, I appreciate Captain America the most.
  • Steak Temperature?  Medium.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show?  (Was there TV in the 70s?)  Probably Charlie’s Angels, just to watch Farrah Fawcett and Kate Jackson.  Although I also enjoyed Baretta, and Quincy, M.E.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall?  (“All you have to do is call, and I’ll be there….”)  Anything but winter!
  • Favorite Pet?  Alas, we are down to a single pet these days:  a very rambunctious shepherd mix named Mr. Tumnus.
  • Best Game Ever?  Great song!  (You did mean the Mikey Mason song, right?) (Rob’s note: Uh, yeah, sure, I was totally thinking of that all along)
  • Coffee or Tea?  Tea, most often of the cold and sweet variety.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy?  More science fiction than fantasy, usually.

    Mr. Tumnus

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

How do you find the patience to put up with slackers like me who promise to turn in their answers and then don’t?  Whatever your secret is, I appreciate it.

Rob’s Answer: Easy. I send these questions out to a bunch of people and I only need one person a week to answer. Strategy for the win! In all truth, I usually have one or two waiting, and if I don’t, it only really takes a couple of “Howdys” on IM and people are all like “I’ll get it to you today.”

Doing these interviews have actually been a blast for me. I enjoy seeing other people’s methods and thoughts. And their favorite muppets. Plus, if any ever come to visit me, I know how to make their steak on the grill.

If I’m being cynical, I will also say that I’ve seen a good uptick in traffic to my blog, more people on my mailing list, and more contacts in the creator community. It’s been a win-win, I think, and I love positive sum games.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

Distorted Vision

The first weekend of June I’ll be at ConCarolinas in Charlotte; the second week of June I’ll be a featured author on the “Lorehaven” book club Facebook page; and at the end of June I’ll be at LibertyCon in Chattanooga.  Meanwhile, folks are welcome to friend me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/gray.rinehart), follow me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/grayrinehart), or connect with me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/grayrinehart).

If anyone wants to see what some of my music is about, I put montage videos for three of my songs on YouTube:

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

How about:  Beach or mountains?

We’re beach people, mostly, but we just spent a few days in the mountains – that’s the advantage of living in close proximity to both!

(Rob’s note: For me, mountains every time. I’d much rather climb than be bored in the sun)

Author Biography:

Gray Rinehart is the only person to have commanded an Air Force satellite tracking station, written speeches for Presidential appointees, and had music on The Dr. Demento Show.  He is the author of the near-future science fiction novel Walking on the Sea of Clouds (WordFire Press), and his short fiction has appeared in Analog Science Fiction & Fact, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies.  He is a contributing editor (the “Slushmaster General”) for Baen Books, and a singer/songwriter with two albums of mostly science-fiction-and-fantasy-inspired music.  During his rather odd USAF career, he fought rocket propellant fires, refurbished space launch facilities, “flew” Milstar satellites, drove trucks, processed nuclear command and control orders, commanded the largest remote tracking station in the Air Force Satellite Control Network, and did other interesting things.  His alter ego is the Gray Man, one of several famed ghosts of South Carolina’s Grand Strand, which is why his web site is graymanwrites.com.


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.

ConQuest AAR

Greetings all

I’m finishing my recovery from ConQuest this evening by sitting in Brewbaker’s getting ready to work while the Golden State Warriors play the Houston Rockets in Game 7 of their series.

I was a big NBA fan in the 80s and early 90s, but as the greats of the Dream Team disappeared, so did my interest. However, the new style that focuses so much on long-range shooting has piqued my interest, and these two teams are both three-point shooting teams. Should be a great game.

And I need a bit of a break, given my silliness. I know I shouldn’t have a dealer’s booth *and* do panels at the same convention, but that’s what I did. Things went well, though I do feel somewhat stretched thin, like Bilbo did with the One Ring.

However, things went very well. I moderated two panels, one on how a costumer interprets the writer’s vision and the other on LIGO and gravity waves. I asked to do the first one because I thought I’d learn something, and I did, but I didn’t realize how much I might have to contribute. Next year, I’ll ask to be on that panel because it will go better with a writer and a costumer comparing experiences. The LIGO panel went far better than I expected, given that I had no idea what to ask. Fortunately, the panelists all had good contributions and I really just had to stay out of their way.

On Saturday night I was put on a Geek Trivia panel. This was a lot of fun, and I came in second place. I’m pretty good at trivia in general, but sometimes geek trivia gets incredibly obscure, and frankly, there are large swaths of geek culture I know very little about, like comic books. Still, I did pretty well, losing out in the end to Van Allen Plexico, who was clearly better than all the rest of us.

The exciting part is that it is supposed to be broadcast on a syndicated radio station. I’ll let everyone know when I find out about the details of that.

On Sunday, I had my only regular panel where I was a participant, this time about historical costuming. I was again a little concerned that I didn’t have much to contribute, but it turns out that through osmosis and a general understanding of how to research stuff, I’ve got a goodly amount to contribute. I even got to name drop Drix and Calontir Trim.

The last thing on the schedule I participated in was my reading. That went very well. I chose the chunk involving Olga, which includes sarcasm, pottery, and a battle. There were five people there, and they listened throughout.

I also tossed out the riddle, which I need to add to the front page of my website. I’m offering a challenge. I’ll give a signed copy of the entire trilogy of The Kreisens to anyone who answers it before I reveal it in None Call Me Mother.

Sales were reasonable, and I netted a little money. I spent it immediately on new product, though.

I’ve added some CDs to my selection. Currently, I have the Bedlam Bards, Pandora Celtica, and Consortium of Genius with a number of other artists coming soon.

I also had Hand of Gold, the new Pussy Katnip anthology including my story “A Gift of Crimson.” My table is starting to have a decent selection, and I look forward to expanding that with Brief Is My Flame very soon.

I didn’t do a lot of socializing after the main stuff because I was simply too tired. However, I got to meet a number of good writers and spend time with Chaz Kemp of Pandora Celtica for the first time in years. Wonderful to meet his wife.

I was tired and frazzled afterwards, but all in all, a very good weekend.

 

Rob’s Update: A Stately Pleasure Dome

Week 21 of 2018

Brief Is My Flame went to my editor and Advance Review Team. They’ll have it until the 8th, at which point, I’ll do my edits and get it out the door.

I don’t have the cover art yet, but it’s on the way. I’ll pass that on here where I get it.

Other than that, I’ve been focused on the move. I didn’t email yesterday for the simple reason that I decided not to look at anything on the computer related to this. I did do a bunch of work, getting set up for ConQuest, but other than that, not much.

The move is proceeding. The Pod is emptied and gone. The storage unit in Omaha is mostly emptied. I’ll go up next week and get the last stuff. That’ll mean no more expense there.

However, that still leave’s my sweetie’s house. Going to be an interesting time here over the month.

Anyway, I’m off to ConQuest. I’m in the Dealer’s Room with a bunch of new things, including the new anthology I’m in and also some SCA/Ren Faire/Convention CDs.

Have a great day.

Current Playlist Song

I’m on hold. Why is it that hold music is not only bad, it’s also coming through skewed or staticy, so even if it was good to listen to, it would be irritating. The only reason I can think of with today’s technology is that it’s a way to get people to stop calling and instead go to the internet. I may be a bit cynical, but I can’t think of a better reason.

Quote of the Week

This poem was published today. Little did Coleridge now he would become my favorite poet, of course it helped that this poem was made into a song by Rush and Rime of the Ancient Mariner was made into a song by Iron Maiden.

“In Xanadu did Kublai Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree
Where Alph, the sacred river ran
Through caverns measureless to man

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (2,007)
  • AFS (2,681)
  • Brief Is My Flame (106,000 exactly)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Interview – J. Edward Neill: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1129
  • I thought I was going to add to the wiki this week, but it’s likely going to be in a couple of weeks that I do the major add of characters and places for Brief Is My Flame

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s interview was with J. Edward Neill. You can find the interview at: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1131 and his websites are (art and books): http://downthedarkpath.com and (art, philosophy, and humor blog): http://tesseraguild.com.

Today’s Weight: 388.4

Updated Word Count: Not sure, will know next week

Shijuren Wiki: 756 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 342 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

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

Interview: J. Edward Neill

One of the best parts of this profession is getting to meet all sorts of creative people. J. Edward Neill is one of those people. I really enjoy his covers, and I think 22 May is the perfect day for me to interview him here.

Interview: J. Edward Neill

What is your quest? To seek the Grail…of full-time creativity! I’m an author and artist, and my subject matter varies wildly. For my books, I like my readers to enjoy vivid, approachable stories while maybe…subtly…encountering moments of introspection. Meaning, I like to dip into philosophical discussions without anyone really knowing it. As for my art, I prefer to explore darker themes. Beauty coupled with death. Peaceful suffering. Unholy deathpunk machine demons. You know…the usual.

Dark Art of J. Edward Neill

What is your favorite color? Ever heard of sculpted paintings? No? Yeah, I get that a lot. Used to be, I’d paint typical 2D images on flat canvasses. By typical I mean portraits, monsters, weird abstract trees and cities. But in the last two years, I’ve paired with another artist to create 3D paintings. We use paper mache and spackle to build up images atop canvasses, and then we go nuts with a variety of dark, metallic acrylics and soupy watercolors. It’s crazy and loads of fun. I recommend everyone try it. (ed. note: Much like the Dread Pirate Roberts feels about masks)

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush? Time, time, time. There’s never enough of it. In trying to balance writing full-length novels, creating philosophy handbooks, painting every night, and enduring the perils of single-fatherhood, I find myself permanently stretched. If I spend too much time writing, I crave to pick up a paintbrush. If I fall too deep into a new canvas, I beat myself up for not hammering out more words. And then there’s my son, who just wants to sword-fight in the backyard. He always gets to be Link. I’m just a lousy Bokoblin.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade? I’ve definitely (along with my art-partner) achieved some pretty cool successes with 3D art. Our styles, whipped together in a blender, are both light and dark, beautiful and terrifying. Last year we spent about a month sculpting and painting a giant, futuristic robot-spider hanging inside a web of machinery. It was exhilarating to finish! As for my books, I think I’ve struck a chord with my Coffee Table Philosophy books. I researched these, quite literally, by going to various Atlanta bars and asking tipsy strangers to answer philosophical questions. The results were…well…interesting.

Sticky the Laser Eyed Cat

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Animal!
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy. I like my food to break beneath my teeth.
  • Favorite Sports Team? Chicago Cubs. 2016, baby!
  • Cake or Pie? I’m a cake guy. Marie Antoinette speaks to my soul.
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon. Especially Chik-Fil A lemonade, aka diabetes in a cup.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Queso with mega-spicy jalapenos.
  • Wet or Dry? I’m an ocean lover. Despite the jellyfish. Wet.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Robert Rich. He makes these trippy, gloomy soundtracks. Absolutely perfect to paint by.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Scotch whiskey. The older, the better. Balvenie 21 Port.
  • Favorite Superhero? My grandmother. Faster than cancer. Stronger than a speeding Alzheimer’s. (ed. note: The hero Gotham needs, not the hero it deserves)
  • Steak Temperature? Medium. But really, I’ll eat any steak in the world if there’s scotch involved.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Was Lost in Space from the 70’s?  I can’t remember.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall. I like to enjoy long runs in the woods with the leaves tumbling all around me.
  • Favorite Pet?  Sticky, the laser-eyed cat!
  • Best Game Ever? Magic the Gathering. I’m a recovering addict. (ed. note: I had 3 of the Moxes. Then I gave them away *before* they got valuable)
  • Coffee or Tea? Tea. Strong and sweet.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Oooooo…tough question. I’ll go with fantasy, if only because the possibilities are even greater.

What question(s) would you like to ask me? I’m looking at your website, and I’m thinking you might like to LARP. True or false?

My Answer: One might make the case that there’s little distinction between LARPing and the SCA. And the case would be a good one in many ways. This year marks my 20th anniversary of joining the SCA, and it has helped me grow, including as a writer.

I have done very little of actual LARPing, though I did get to help run one at GenCon in the 90s. I was a designated NPC, and at one point they told me to “die interestingly.” So, I died half-on, half-off an elevator. And then they did the body tape thing. People who were just in Milwaukee, not there for Gen Con, got to the hotel elevator and there was half a body silhouetted in tape. The rest was on the 4th floor.

Also, I’d love to know your answer to this— if you could lock any two historical figures (dead or alive) in a cage for a fight to the death, which two would you pick?

My Answer: Wow, that’s a fascinating question. Here’s an answer, related to your interest in philosophy. Let’s go Hammurabi and Justinian in a duel of legal wits. But man, there’s so many fun choices.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

And Where can we find you?

  • DragonCon 2018, baby! Come see me at my table.
  • Also, Pancakes & Booze Atlanta in July. Eat free flapjacks, get tipsy, and buy my terrifying paintings!
J. Edward Neill Cover Art

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

You should have asked: If you had to choose one creative outlet, and only one, which would it be?

So I could answer: Painting. Late at night. Alone in my dungeon-like basement. With music playing and a too-strong cocktail on the table.

You should also have asked: What have you done recently?

And I would answer that I’ve very recently finished up my big fiction trilogy – Eaters of the Light. Each cover was created by Amanda Makepeace, whose interview introduced me to you. This series will appeal to lovers of both fantasy AND sci-fi. Space vampires, holographic blue girls, and intergalactic heartbreak. It’s available now on Amazon.


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: The Finish Line

Week 20 of 2018

The original plan was for me to turn Brief Is My Flame over to my editor on Tuesday. However, she preferred to get it on Monday, so I’ve been polishing it.

Which has actually added several scenes that I realized where needed. Editing, for me, involves taking words out of what I’ve written because they’re useless, and then adding whole chunks of new scenes. There’s little in between for me.

This other part of this week is that I took back the house in Olathe. There’s been moving of stuff, prepping to paint, and so on. We also bought a washer/dryer set today.

The house is a mass of things in the wrong places, with many more to come, but we’re making progress.

Current Playlist Song

Walter Murphy’s “A Fifth of Beethoven.” Disco meets classical. I’m right there.

Quote of the Week

This is why I pay Kellie Hultgren.

“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.”
– C. J. Cherryh

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (2,007)
  • AFS (2,681)
  • Brief Is My Flame (100k or so, off to Kellie on Monday)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Kit Daven, one of many fun people I met at Ad Astra a couple of years ago. You can find the interview I did with her here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1120 and you can find her online at: http://www.kitdaven.com/.

Today’s Weight: 388.4

Updated Word Count: 1057

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
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: Kit Daven

This week’s interview comes from Kit Daven who I met at Ad Astra a few years ago. I was invited to go to it by my friend Pasi who ran the con suite and I’m really glad I did. I met a bunch of great people, including, as you’ll see, Kit.

Kit Daven Interview

What is your quest? As a writer, my current quest is rooted in the exploration of fictional narrative, primarily novels and short stories. In my youth, I spent many years exploring poetry and short fiction, published my own zines, and attempted several longer works, including an unfinished, abandoned epic fantasy. The maze of fictional narrative is vast, and the paths to be taken many. Here are some of the authors who have stood at pivotal intersections and either handed me a power key or pointed the way.

Roald Dahl was the first to hand me a golden ticket and lead me to the entrance of the maze. In the earliest turns and bends, C. S. Lewis pointed out the rabbit holes and mirrors, and Astrid Lindgren provided me a young companion, a strong girl with carrot-coloured pigtails, who took me in a little deeper. From imaginative hallways down into dark tunnels, Edgar Allan Poe showed me mood, atmosphere, and mystery. H. P. Lovecraft showed me that the unknown and the ambiguous could be effective, and William Hope Hodgson made the sea forever creepy. Later on, a young man in a possessed car drove me a good distance with Stephen King, from whom I learned that in-depth characterization can be done without putting a reader to sleep. William Blake showed me how to develop my own eclectic rhythms and that without self-publishing his work, no one would know his writing today. Tanith Lee pointed the way to the flat earth, where I explored style and concision and how to bend fairytales and myths. Douglas Adams showed me you can be funny and smart at the same time. There have been other writers across the mediums who have been influential, all noteworthy yet too many to list. Recently, I took a turn at George RR Martin and am exploring world building in more depth.

All of them have been teachers. All of them have told me, “Go forth but beware trolls!”

What is your favorite color? Purple. My favourite colour is always purple.

Experimentation is an important aspect for my stories. I tend to start with rules and see how I can bend them. One rule in particular was quite fun to play with while writing A Xiinisi Trilogy. The rule goes like this: unnamed characters shouldn’t be given dialogue. So, I went ahead and gave the occasional unnamed character dialogue, by putting it in italics. I made sure there were several background characters available to chime in on whatever was happening, offering three to four bits of dialogue that acted together as a beat in the narrative. I did this sparingly throughout each novel to great effect.

Who does she think she is?
You can’t do that.
Hack!
Rules Schmules! I learn them mostly to break them, then I play with them until they cry.

When it comes to characters, I love creating foils, because like real people, they want to show you how they see themselves. A foil, however, peels away that veneer and shows you what they are like beneath the surface. In The Forgotten Gemstone, the main character Ule is hungry and tired. She has been invited to sit by a fire where she patiently listens to stories told by a boy. The boy offers her what he’s been cooking over the fire, and after she discovers she’s nearly eaten a roasted spider, she storms off into the desert in a temper tantrum. At this point in the narrative, she’s not as mature as she likes to think she is.

Kit Daven Portrait

In general, I really love to listen to what the story wants, how it wants to be told and presented. A project that I’ve been working on for a couple of years has been calling out for multiple POVs. When I mean multiple, I mean every character will get at least one turn in contributing to the narrative. I’m not sure how to present that yet, but I’ll figure it out.

Oh, and I love the colour orange, too.

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush? (What are some of the challenges you’ve faced that have frustrated you? Maybe some creative failures that you’ve learned from)

The biggest challenge I face is rooted in a huge fail on my part. I quit writing for many years over a decade ago. I’d quit before, but this last time was for good. I was writing straight literary fiction, and I crashed into this wall. I’d get dry tongue when I sat down to write. My body would vibrate and not in a good way. I used to love poetry but couldn’t bring myself to write it anymore, because my favorite pieces elicited zero response from readers. My readers (mostly family and friends) liked the literary stuff. It was good, never great. Then, I decided to try a new approach, and I found this beautiful intersection of writing from both my heart and my mind. However, the reactions I received were ones of discomfort and I often heard, “I couldn’t say that.” At the time, I interpreted these reactions as negative responses.

No longer enjoying the process, I gave up. I stopped writing fiction. I stopped reading. I must have purged a couple hundred books out my library and got them down enough to fill two tall bookshelves, then channeled my creative energy into art. It was, at that time, the right thing to do and a huge relief. Later, however, I realized being a writer is very much a part of who I am, whether I like it or not. To reintroduce myself to the subject, I began reading online about writing and writers and discovered something interesting. Those reactions my readers had all those years ago were, in fact, progress, but I hadn’t recognized it at the time.

The first challenge was to get my writing skills back up to where they were before I quit. So I decided to dive into writing a novel and completing it By Any Means Necessary. That novel turned into a trilogy, and not only has my skill level returned, but I’ve leveled up. The second challenge I continue to struggle with is catching up on reading, especially currently published books. I’m a tortoise. I read slowly, and I write carefully, so I always feel behind the times and suspect I may never catch up to where other writers are. Doesn’t mean I won’t try. 😉 Who knows, perhaps with enough practice and time, I’ll pick up speed.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade? My Holy Hand Grenade is all shiny and gold and beveled, and on each bevel is a mark: the question mark. The almighty question. That is by far my biggest power. I ask questions, a lot of them. Questions drive characters, they propel plots, they make you think, and when something doesn’t make sense, I ask What’s wrong? How can I make this better? Can a woodchuck chuck wood? And why am I suddenly channeling Chuck Wendig?

The Other Castle

When I was a kid, my parents got so annoyed with my questions, they bought me an encyclopedia set. My teachers cringed when I tried to articulate questions and did their best to answer but couldn’t quite grasp what I was asking. People run when they see me, because I ask hard questions, the kind that can’t be answered with glib, greeting card responses. I’m a question monster, and I finally realized that my super power is, in fact, troubleshooting. I do it all the time with everything now, especially my writing.

Questions lead me down interesting rabbit holes in my narrative, and they help me get back out again when the rabbits down there want to serenade me or paint my toenails. Questions are sensitive beasts. Can I write a short story? isn’t the same as How can I write a short story? One questions the writer’s ability, the other questions their approach.

For the longest time, I didn’t think I could write a short story. Every time I tried, it turned into a novelette or longer. The short story format eludes me most of the time, but I persisted with my questions. Then last year, for the CBC Short Story Competition, I finally wrote a legitimate short story, less than 2100 words. That in itself has been my biggest achievement lately. So, when I found out the story didn’t make it to the long list or win, I honestly didn’t care. I’m in the process of going over it again, making a few more changes, and then will start submitting it to other markets. Now I want to know, How long will it take until someone wants to publish it? Who will publish it? And where’d that rabbit go?

When I finish The Starry Rise, that’ll be my next huge success. Not only will it complete the trilogy, it’ll be a third novel under my belt, which I think is a notable milestone, and a tricky one, too. I’ve read a lot about writers throwing the towel in after the third book, but that isn’t going to happen for me. I have too many stories I’d like to tell, too many questions to explore.

Lightning Round
  • Favorite Muppet? Animal. No! Sloan. Wait! Animal with Sloan. Oooo, is there a fan fiction forum for this? Oh, and Beaker.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Depends.
  • Favorite Sports Team? Hell, no!
  • Cake or Pie? Neither.
  • Lime or Lemon? Both.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? My mouth.
  • Wet or Dry? Towels?
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? My mom; she plays the harp.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Hell, no!
  • Favorite Superhero? Unfortunately, growing tired of them, but I am looking forward to the second Deadpool movie.
  • Steak Temperature? Medium rare to well done, because I’m a heathen.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Laverne & Shirley
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Autumn
  • Favorite Pet? Siren and Skye, sibling Siamese cats, as opposite to one another as you can get. Siren is one of those quiet surfer, vegan, yoga, pansexual, meditation cats, who gives you these looks that say, “It would be really wise for you to pet me, dude.” Skye, on the other hand, is an all around brat, very direct, very forceful, very demanding of attention. She walks like she’s cruising for a fight, and she’s likely to be heard saying. “Pet me, dammit! Now!”
  • Best Game Ever? I go through phases. My last phase was Skyrim. I picked up a special edition with three or four add-ons. Installed them all in one go. I don’t get much time to play anymore. I figure it’ll be years before I finish it.
  • Coffee or Tea? Tea. I just quit coffee, so tea.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Fantasy.

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

What kinds of tactics do you use to keep yourself on the writer’s path?

My Answer: I think the biggest thing is to listen to your body and see what’s working. For example, I built a really good office in my basement. Then I realized I never used it. I put an office in a first floor room, and it worked well, even though I never really set it up completely. I’m excited, because as I’m moving back into the house that room will be my office from the start, meaning I can arrange it exactly the way I want.

But I’ve also found that I sometimes need to work in a different environment. Right now, I’m sitting in my favorite place, a bar called Brewbaker’s. They have good beer, a tasty salad I really like (especially with extra jalapenos and avocado), and a tall half-booth near an outlet that is just really comfortable to me. It’s been perfect, and I missed it while being in Omaha. Basically, it gets back to

the main rule: “There’s one true way of writing, and it’s what works for you to get words on the page.” If you find you’re having problems being productive in your home, go to a different room. Or go to a coffee shop. Or a bar. Or a library. Change the music you listen to. Turn it off. Turn it louder. Put sports on in the background. Or Supernatural. Or Firefly. Or whatever.

And if you’re stuck on a project, start a different one. Asimov apparently had a bunch of stories/novels going on at once. When he’d get stuck with one, he’d shift to another. By the end of the year, I hope to have built that process up so I can get more than a couple of short stories each year to go along with 2-3 novels. For me, if I know what a chapter/scene will be, i can write the first draft pretty quickly. If I’m fighting one novel, going to a short story can let my backbrain come up with the next set of scenes or vice versa.

Basically, if you’re stuck in a rut, change something. Anything.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And Where can we find you?

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

You should have asked, “What is A Xiinisi Trilogy?”

A Xiinisi Trilogy follows the adventures and misadventures of Ule, a trans-dimensional world builder with the ability to manipulate matter and energy, including her own body.

The first book, The Forgotten Gemstone, is primarily a fantasy, in which Ule finds herself trapped in a world she created and must find a way back to her realm. In doing so, she discovers an unprecedented phenomenon, the presence of demons. In the second book, The Other Castle, the story takes on a more violent and mysterious tone when Ule discovers she’s been poisoned. Determined to figure out who murdered her and why, she returns in a new form, that of a man, and discovers there’s more to these demons than she first thought. And in the third book, The Starry Rise, fantasy segues into science fiction and a bit of cosmic horror as Ule embarks on the last leg of her journey, during which she figures out why the demons are there and her true calling as she undergoes her final transformations. The trilogy explores themes of self-identity, transformation, the shadow self, and finding purpose. Also, it is queer friendly.

You should have also asked, “Do you have any sample fiction of your work available online?”

Why yes, Rob. Yes, I do.

Forgotten Gemstone

The Forgotten Gemstone

The Other Castle

And, jeez Rob, why didn’t you ask, “When is the third book in A Xiinisi Trilogy coming out?”

The Starry Rise is coming out in Late Summer/Autumn 2018.

Author Biography

Kit Daven is a long time writer but has only started promoting herself as an indie writer in the latter part of 2013. To date, she has published the novels The Forgotten Gemstone and The Other Castle, the first two installments in A Xiinisi Trilogy, through her author press Eager Eye Books. She enjoys writing along the darker spectrum of fantasy, and blends her fiction with science fiction, suspense, adventure, horror, mystery, and romance. Weird tales are her favourite kind of story. She resides in Cambridge, Ontario.


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: No Quarter

Week 19 of 2018

Last weekend was Demicon. I’d like to give it a full AAR, but I’m tired and stressed about getting Brief Is My Flame completed. However, I will say that I had a great time, especially because there were so many of my SCA friends there.

The other event news is that I’ve decided to go to InConjunction on the way home from LibertyCon instead of going to Battlemoor. Part of the joy of Battlemoor was to get to go with my sweetie, but there’s a family reunion that week as well. In any case, I guess I’ll try Battlemoor next year, if the schedule works.

This week is all about getting Brief Is My Flame off to the editor and to my advance team. That’ll happen Tuesday.

Advance team? What’s that? Well, it’s a bunch of people who are going to get the raw, not-yet-fully-edited version of the book in part to help me avoid obvious mistakes and in part to help push initial reviews. Early reviews are important to Amazon.

Anyway, I’m still looking for about 10 people who are interested in helping with this. If you wish to help, drop me an email at rob@robhowell.org or direct message me on Facebook or Twitter.

With that, I’m going to get to my plans for the weekend. Write. Sleep. Write. With some sleeping. Maybe food.

Current Playlist Song

Tool’s cover the Led Zeppelin song “No Quarter.” It’s a much darker retelling of an already dark song. I love it.

Quote of the Week

“No Quarter” is such a fantastic song, I might as well pull this week’s quote from its lyrics.

The devil mocks their every step, ooh
The snow drives back the foot that’s slow
The dogs of doom are howling more

– Led Zeppelin, “No Quarter”

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (2,007)
  • AFS (2,681)
  • Brief Is My Flame (85k or so. I’ve split it apart to finish threads, has to be to my editor on Tuesday, so word counts aren’t quite as important as finishing it)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Amanda Makepeace, a tremendous science fiction and fantasy artist. You can find her work at:

Today’s Weight: 392.2

Updated Word Count: 33108

Shijuren Wiki: 756 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 331 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

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

Interview: Amanda Makepeace

I met Amanda Makepeace at DragonCon, I think. Whatever con it was, we got to talking about music that combines traditional instruments and metal or punk. Dropkick Murphys, Korpiklaani, Tengger Cavalry, Tyr… Er… sorry, I got distracted headbanging.

Anyway, crank up some Turisas and take a look at the answers of a great artist.

War for Jupiter
War for Jupiter

What is your quest?

I’m a Fantasy/SciFi Artist and Illustrator, which means I create dreams and visions for myself and others. My work can be found on book covers, inside game manuals and at several southern fandom conventions (like DragonCon in Atlanta). I’m inspired by nature, mythology and what lies beyond the stars.

Sharing what I love to create with others is the most rewarding part. I have my mother to blame for this crazy adventure. One of my most vivid memories is of her drawing one of my toy dinosaurs. I started drawing not long after and never stopped.

Amanda Makepeace Portrait
Amanda Makepeace Portrait

What is your favorite color?

I have soft spot for anything organic and primordial. That passion spans both my Fantasy and SciFi  art. Sometimes that applies simply to the colors I’m drawn toward; while other times, it’s the main elements and subjects of my work. It’s life—birth and death, creation and destruction.

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

There was a time when I thought I had to be either a Fantasy artist or a SciFi artist—I couldn’t be both. Silly idea when I look back on it now. Since unleashing them both I’ve been far happier and far more productive. The lesson here? Some artists work on very focused projects and it works for them. However, there’s nothing wrong with being more diverse, especially if that’s your calling. When you try to stifle your natural inclination you end up silencing the most important parts of you. Follow your heart.

Long List Anthology, Volume 3

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

Late last year I provided art for the cover of the Long List Anthology Volume 3, which features stories from the Hugo nomination list. (ed. note: You can find the book here) The book was recently featured in a list of anthologies on the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog – 10 Recent Anthologies that Show Us What SFF Can Do. It’s little things like this that make my day. I’m currently working on another book cover for an anthology from the same editor.

Drusilla, Studio Cat Extraordinaire
Drusilla, Studio Cat Extraordinaire

Lightning Round

  • Crunchy or Creamy? – Both!
  • Cake or Pie? Pie. – Cake is good, but pie is love.
  • Lime or Lemon? – Lemon, but only if it’s lemonade.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? – Salsa!
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? – I think most everything I listen to (and I have eclectic tastes) someone has heard it, but Keith Jarrett may be a bit obscure?
  • Favorite Superhero? – Loki. He’s sometimes a hero, right?
  • Steak Temperature? Medium
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? The Bionic Woman
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall, always.
  • Favorite Pet? – My studio cat, Drusilla, who also acts as my creative director and overlord.
  • Best Game Ever? Doom
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee. I like strong coffee with a lot of cream. I love lattes
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Is this a trick question?

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

At ChattaCon we talked for a bit about music and specifically metal bands. What’s a new band you’ve recently discovered?

My Answer: Oddly, it’s not so much new bands I’ve been getting into, but going back into some of the ones I’ve loved and delving deeper into their catalogue. For example, I just bought a bunch of older Steeleye Span. I’ve heard most of what’s on there, but I haven’t heard it enough.

I’ve also been buying a number of compilations to, again, get myself back with some music I’ve liked, but didn’t have on CD. I recently got a Rainbow compilation, along with a Blackmore’s Night CD. I’ll fill out all the Blackmore’s Night stuff eventually.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? (All the web presence you’d like me to link to)

And Where can we find you?

Forest Dreams

My next convention is LibertyCon in Chattanooga, TN (June 29-July 1). I’ll be attending as professional, which means you can find me on the programming schedule. I’m also a part of the Art Show, where I’ll have art and prints for sale. Later in the summer I’ll be in the DragonCon Art Show again. I’ll be selling at my table and in the gallery of the show.

(ed. note: I’ll be there too. Looking forward to seeing the other 748 besides Amanda and I that will be there).

And we’ll finish with Amanda’s artist biography:

Amanda Makepeace is an award winning artist and illustrator. Her career in art began more than a decade ago while living abroad in the UK. In recent years, Amanda has worked with independent publishers and game companies. Her latest project was the cover art for the Long List Anthology Volume 3 – a book featuring Hugo nominated stories. She is also a regular at Fantasy and SciFi conventions in the southeast. Some of her awards include: Judges’ Choice Award in the JordanCon Art Show (2015), Best Space Scene in the DragonCon Art Show (2017), and Best Professional Science Fiction in the ChattaCon Art Show (2018).

Through her art, she explores mythology, magical beings, our connection to the planet, and even distant worlds. She is a member of the Changeling Artist Collective and Co-Founder of the Bird Whisperer Project. When she’s not in the studio, she can be found reconnecting with nature and the woods that inspired her as a child.


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: The Y-Option

Week 17 of 2018

Greetings all.

Well, the NFL draft came and went and it was all I expect. I’m really pleased with Dallas’s draft haul, and I’m impressed with the way they planned and went with their plan. The draft is an inexact science, but there’s very little I disagreed with at the time. They picked players that had value at the spot, that filled needs, and I think most will serve well.

Bigger than that, of course, is the retirement of Jason Witten. He’s what all of us should aspire to be. Tough, hard-working, and reliable. He’ll go into the Hall of Fame, and it should be on the first ballot. He was one of the faces of the Cowboys for 15 years. We’ll miss him on the field, but we’ll all get to see him as he’s going straight into the Monday Night Football booth.

Last year, Tony Romo announced his first Cowboys game on 5 November. This year? Jason Witten will announce his first Cowboy game on 5 November. Cowboy fans will always remember, remember the fifth of November.

One last Dallas Cowboys note. Amazon Prime has a show called All or Nothing, and it’s a behind the scenes look at a football team over a year. This season’s show is about the Cowboys. If you have the slightest interest in football or any of the controversies, or if you just want amazing reality TV, you should watch it. I’m only four episodes in, but it’s incredible.

Turning to this weekend, I’m leaving in a bit to go to Des Moines for DemiCon. I’ve not been before, but I’m excited because I have a lot of friends that are going.

Tomorrow, I’m scheduled for three panels, and they’re my usual ones on the Martin Koszta Affair, noir in SF/F, and blending genres. Should be a fun weekend.

Current Playlist Song

I’m actually getting the opportunity to write at Brewbaker’s today, which is such a great thing for me. Unfortunately, that puts me at the mercy of their overhead music. Sometimes it’s stuff I like, but today it’s something that is fortunately too low for me to hear. Instead, think of your favorite song and have a great day.

Quote of the Week

NFL play calls can be arcane, but in this case the Y-option is fairly simple. It’s a pass play describing a particular pass pattern The “Y” receiver is the tight end. He goes out about 8-12 yards and then has the option of turning any direction he wants. Jason Garrett, the coach of the Cowboys had this to say about Witten’s skill with this one route.

“It’s one of the great givens in all of sports,” Garrett said. “They say Abdul-Jabbar’s sky hook was the greatest given – I’ll put Witten’s Y-Option against it any day of the week. We were down by three, we were on the plus 42-yard, and we said ‘We’re going for it,’” Garrett said. “This was the play of the game. We called Y-option.” – Jason Garrett

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (2,007)
  • AFS (2,681)
  • Brief Is My Flame (75k or so. I’ve split it apart to finish threads)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on fellow Four Horseman author Eric S. Brown, who has written a bunch of other stuff, especially horror. You can find his stuff at: https://www.amazon.com/Eric%20S.%20Brown/e/B004G6XP7E/

Today’s Weight: 391.8

Updated Word Count: Don’t have the count this week

Shijuren Wiki: 756 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 331entries

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

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