Rob’s Update: Comrades From Birth

Week 30 of 2018

I’m sitting in an Eat n’ Park in New Castle, PA about to get some supplies for Pennsic. Pay no attention to the fact that Beer 4 Less is across the parking lot.

People often say that coming to Pennsic is coming home. I get that, but to be honest, after all this time coming here, I find that New Castle is a big part of that.

It’s a rust belt town, with all that entails. Still, there’s some amazing buildings here, including a stone house I’d love to someday be wealthy enough to save.

I look forward to Pennsic for different reasons now than the first time I came. I no longer look forward to the big battles like I used to. Now what I enjoy is a couple of weeks of a great work space, writing and selling in Calontir Trim.

I greatly appreciate that Master Andrixos gives me space in his booth to write and sell. I get good traffic, plus I can sit and write in a work environment. In many ways, it’s the closest thing to an office environment I have.

I’m sure those of you who work in offices every day are looking at me like I’m crazy, but I haven’t really had a 9-5 job in fifteen years or so. I kind of like having the schedule for the time I work here.

Maybe I am crazy after all.

Anyway, speaking of work, I need to finish a short story today.

Current Playlist Song

Ah, the joys of restaurant music. This week’s song is “Lotta Love” by Nicolette Larson. There’s a lot of great music from the 1970s. This isn’t necessarily one of them.

Quote of the Week

I return to Master Andrixos and move to a much better song for this week’s quote. He is in the process of moving to be with his stepdaughter and (any moment now) grandbaby. He’s been a fixture of Calontir, and he’ll be missed. He moved away for a bit for work a while ago before coming back, and at at the time wrote a song that seems like the perfect source for this week’s quote, especially since we’ll sing it quite a few times this war.

Farewell, my companions, my comrades from birth.
Well tested swordsmen who wander the Earth.
Many a bottle we’ve emptied in mirth
And in many a battle we have proven our worth.

– Master Andrixos, “The Leaving Song”

News and Works in Progress

  • CB (6,560)
  • LD (3,543) (Formerly TAV)
  • AFS (2,681)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Michael J. Allen. You can find my interview of him at: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1259 and you can find him on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B0096GEILG/?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true

Today’s Weight: 388.4

Updated Word Count: 158,522

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 376 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: Michael J. Allen

Greetings all

One of the most intimidating moments I’ve had so far as a writer came at Constellation in October last year. I was on a panel of writing military science fiction. What was intimidating was that Orson Scott Card was to my right and David Drake was too my left.

Wowza.

Anyway, there was a fourth member of that panel, Michael J. Allen. In truth, I think we both did pretty well. We each made a point or two, but we were also both smart enough to learn from the rock stars.

Interview: Michael J. Allen
Michael J. Allen
Portrait of Michael J. Allen

What is your quest?

I’m searching the Nothing looking for the Awesome. In his online classes on creative writing, Brandon Sanderson teaches there’s always room for more awesome.  I strive to create stories that match what I’m looking for in the bookstore. I love old things made new, creating elements everyone knows with a twist mixed in with something new to create (I hope) the awesome.

What is your favorite color?

My favorite color would have to be silver. As before, I endeavor to make new from old in a way that is understandable. I want the logic to be consistent. In an upcoming release I created a world guarded by phoenixes, but I wanted every element represented, not just fire. That meant figuring out what a water or a life based phoenix might rise from if killed. So for something like a modern day water phoenix to rise from her essence, she might have to watch tearjerker movies in her nest to build up enough tears to be reborn.

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

Plaid of course. I come from a hard work equals success background, all measurable and quantitative. As a writer the equation ceases to be linear. A constant frustration in my writing career revolves around reaching the success rate my old world brain tells me I should be making in this new world as an author.

Discarded
Cover of Discarded

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

When discharged, my hand grenade creates a swirling rainbow vortex straight into fairy land, summing thousands of flesh eating sprites—talk about tasted by the rainbow.  If I had to pick one technique I use well, it would be bringing dialogue to life. I admit I worry sometimes that my stories contain too much dialogue, but it comes so naturally once I’ve figured out the internal/external goals, motivations and conflicts of a given character. A story is about people, and making the people real required them to be as fully formed in my imaginary world as you or me…probably more you.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Animal came to mind first, and who doesn’t want to live without bothering to filter or apply self control., but as I started to answer I remembered Grover from Seseme Street, a kind goofy guy who happens to be a bumbling superhero reminiscent of The Greatest American Hero.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? That’s a rather personal question, don’t you think?
  • Cake or Pie? Pie, one to the face is a hell of way to win a planet from the Klingons (See “How Much for Just the Planet” by John M Ford)
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime, the overlooked but sweeter infiltrator from the citrus regime.
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  It depends on who’s in the tub with me.
  • Wet or Dry? The night was sultry.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?  Danny Kaye, though you probably would know who he was if you saw him. (Rob’s Note: This isn’t terribly surprising given Michael’s sartorial style. He is always very well dressed. Maybe not as nice as my Rush t-shirts, but worthy of the Danny Kaye style)
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Rum, the only drink for a pirate.
  • Favorite Superhero? Greatest American Hero/ SuperGrover
  • Steak Temperature? Medium Rare and damn the consequences!
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Battlestar Galactica
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Winter, it’s damned hot in the south.
  • Favorite Pet?   I’ve had a lot of dogs over my life, so that’s a hard choice. She’s not the best behaved of all the dogs I’ve trained, but my black lab Magesty is a dyed in the wool cuddler.
  • Best Game Ever? Wing Commander: Privateer (or its spiritual progeny Elite Dangerous)
  • Coffee or Tea? Choosing between tea and not tea, always choose the tea.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy?  Science fiction, you can have all the same wonder, magic and weird races as with fantasy, plus a bunch of cool toys everyone can play with—well, okay. Some fantasy might have better toys.

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

Who was the professional author you wanted to meet most and how’d the meeting go (assuming you’re not still stalking)?

My Answer: Well, without a Tardis or something like it, I can’t meet any of the authors I really want to meet. Tolkien would be fun, especially if we could break down the Finnsburh Fragment and Episode together. I would love to talk language choices with Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. I’d really like to meet the writer of Beowulf and hear him perform it. Same for Homer.

If we’re talking people who are actually alive today, then I’ve been lucky enough to meet most of them. David Drake, I mentioned above. I’m met David Weber, Larry Correia, John Ringo, and a bunch of other Baen authors at LibertyCon. All of them have been generous with their experience to a fledgling writer such as myself. 

Fey West
Cover of Fey West

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? (Events and cons you’re scheduled to attend)

  • July 26 through 29 Raleigh Supercon
  • August 30 through Sept 3 DragonCon

Also, I have two new releases.

Do you have a creator biography?

Michael J. Allen is a bestselling author of multi-layer science fiction and fantasy novels. Born in Oregon and an avid storm fan, he lives in far too hot & humid rural Georgia with his two black Labradors: Myth and Magesty. Warped from youth by the likes of Jerry Lewis, Robin Williams, Gene Wilder and Danny Kaye, his sense of humor leads to (in order) occasional surrender, communicable insanity, a sweet tooth and periodic launch into nonsensical song.

Fresh out of teenagers, his days are spent writing in restaurants, people watching and warring over keyboard control with the voices in his head.  On those rare breaks from his highly contested ​102-key self-therapy ​program, he can be found​ experimenting in the kitchen, enjoying bad Sci-​Fi movies, playing D&D or the occasional video game, getting hit with sticks in the SCA or hanging out with the crew of Starfleet International’s U.S.S. DaVinci.​He’s great at remembering names – if they’re fictional, and knows basically nothing about music.

To learn more about Michael, check out his website at www.deliriousscribbles.com

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

The same question I asked you. Which pro did I want to meet most? For me, unfortunately, it was Terry Pratchett, and I was not fortunate enough to make his acquaintance. (Rob’s Note: He would indeed have been fun to meet, especially tossing ideas back and forth)


Finally, let me know any suggestions or comments you have about this interview format so I can keep tweaking it.

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: Finding My Way

Week 29 (sorta) of 2018

Greetings all

Wow, so much to get to.

First, welcome to all the new subscribers. There’s quite a few of you from LibertyCon, InConjunction, and OComicCon. Thanks for joining in to my little corner of weekly madness.

Well, it’s usually weekly, scheduled for every Thursday. However, this is actually last week’s update. Also, this week’s update is going to be a little late. I’ll probably do it on Saturday at Pennsic since most of Thursday will involve hundreds of miles of interstates between here and there.

Why am I late this week? Well, mostly because I spent the last week nesting and organizing.

Some of that is because my Mom gave me a new desktop computer for my birthday. I’ve needed one for a while, as my old system no longer could keep up with my typing speed. Thanks, Mom!

The new system also allows for up to 4 monitors, and I’m in the process of figuring out how to use all of them. I also spent the week organizing a variety of data, including some old CDs I uncovered while unpacking. I found a bunch of pictures from my 2006 trip to England and Macedonia that I thought I had lost. I’ll post some of them one of these days. You might even get to see pictures of Achrida as I remember it.

I’ve also been nesting and organizing since the move. Thanks to Johan and Tigernan, the house is now merely a home with some clutter as opposed to a storage unit with showers.

Part of the challenge has been to replace as much of the carpet as we could before moving stuff on to it. We’ve replaced it with bamboo flooring. I can’t recommend this stuff enough, at least up to this point. It’s cheap ($1.69/sq ft), looks good, and has already shown to hold up pretty well. We got the heavy stuff, 5/8 inch, and it has a solid feel to it that thinner laminates don’t have.

Anyway, we have cool new floors in the TV rooms and office, which we are really enjoying.

Then, yesterday, Tigernan came over and moved box after box to get stuff at least to the right floor. The garage is now open and useful again. All of the furniture, with the exception of Giulia’s desk, is in the right place for now. Also, there’s a huge pile of trash that Olathe will take tomorrow and be gone. Much of this is stuff from the storage shed, which he took up front.

I am, for the first time since I moved to Olathe in 2011, truly organizing my workspace.

It’s nice, especially since I want to be more productive going forward.

Current Playlist Song

Eric Clapton and Stevie Winwood’s live version of “Can’t Find My Way Home.” One of my all time favorite songs.

Quote of the Week

Today is the birthday of John Rutsey, the original drummer of Rush. He only played on their debut album, so today’s quote comes from that album.

“I’ve been gone so long
I’ve lost count of the years
Well, I sang some sad songs
Oh yes, and cried some bad tears”
-Rush, “Finding My Way”

News and Works in Progress

  • CB (6,560)
  • TAV (2,841)
  • AFS (2,681)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Not a darn thing as I’ve been nesting, though I intend to do a OComicCon AAR

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

No spotlight this week, as I have been focused on other things. However, I have some neat ideas for Pennsic if we can make them work.

Today’s Weight: 384.4

Updated Word Count: 156551

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 376 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

Rob’s Update: Too Silent To Be Real

Week 28 of 2018

Greetings all

InConjunction went reasonably well. I didn’t sell as much as I’d hope, but I made some new connections that could be very useful. I also really enjoyed my panels and spending time with Jon Osborne, who was next to me.

Still, I was really glad to get home. I am not as enthralled with 11 day trips as I once was. This is especially true since I knew there was work to do on unpacking.

This week has not been terribly productive in terms of writing. I’ll have to focus on that next week. However, it’s been a productive in other ways and been an enjoyable week.

My apprentice came down for a few days. She helped us unpack, organize, and joined us on a variety of errands. The best part, however, is that I had planned to visit Finola, the Fyrd Mom and founder of Calontir’s Soup Kitchen, to read a portion of Brief Is My Flame. This portion was the one where I first describe the character I based on her. Her daughter Jenna provided chicken soup and cookie dough, traditional Soup Kitchen choices, and told some  stories of Calontir’s past. I had a great time as was very happy the apprentice was with me.

We also did some nesting. The floor in the main portion of my office was completed on Tuesday, so we got to move in the two big bookcases I planned to put in here. We also moved in a bunch of things, and unpacked most of the old SF/F magazines that I own. I’m putting them in here because I’ll be reading one of them a week and writing a blog post to review them starting in late August.

This week, I’m off to OComicCon. I’ll set up tonight and we’ll see how this show goes. I’ve never been here before, but I think I’ll do well.

Have a great week, everyone.

Current Playlist Song

Right now, it’s the “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” by Gordon Lightfoot. I enjoy this song for a variety of reasons, but as a writer I’m amazed at how much he packs into every word. Great song.

Quote of the Week

On 12 July, 1862, Congress authorized the establishment of the Medal of Honor for the US Army. So, today’s quote comes from Alvin York, who won the Medal of Honor for taking a machine gun nest. This quote came from his memoirs.

“I had orders to report to Brigadier General Lindsey, and he said to me, ‘Well, York, I hear you have captured the whole damned German army.’ And I told him I only had 132.”

News and Works in Progress

  • CB (6,560)
  • TAV (2,182)
  • AFS (2,681)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on J.L. Gribble. You can find my interview with her at http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1237 and you can find her website at https://jlgribble.com/.

Today’s Weight: 388.0

Updated Word Count: 155,799

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 376 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: JL Gribble

Interview Questions

I met J.L. Gribble on a panel at ConFluence last year and we had a very good time.

J.L. Gribble Portrait
J.L. Gribble Portrait

What is your quest?

I love writing books that I want to read. For too long, the publishing industry has determined the trends and fads, so I love that my small press lets me experiment with my fiction and tell stories that don’t fit nicely in any one genre. Romeo and Juliet with werewolves and weredragons? Time travel with a twist? I’m free to stretch the limits of my imagination, regardless of whether such things are “not done” in the urban fantasy genre.

What is your favorite color?

For a long time, my favorite color was blue. I was never a girly sort of girl, so I felt that acknowledging my love of purple would be a betrayal of things I pushed against. Now, as I take a look around my computer desk, at my purple Kindle cover, my purple post-it notes, my purple computer mouse, etc., I’ve learned to embrace what I love no matter what I think others might interpret from it. So while I love epic high fantasy tales and intricate, politically driven space opera, I’m also not afraid to shout my love of contemporary and historical romance novels with their happily ever afters. In embracing that love, I’ve learned a lot about how to create real, well-rounded relationships in my own storytelling.

Steel Victory
Steel Victory

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

It all boils down to time, doesn’t it? You can’t measure speed without it. Like everything else, time has a price. When you’re working full-time, writing at least one book a year, managing two blogs, and trying to maintain at least some semblance of health, time isn’t free. I had to learn that it’s okay to say no to things that might be “easy” on my end but would still cost me precious time. It can be frustrating and guilt-inducing, but the best thing possible for a creative’s mental and physical health is sometimes to NOT take every opportunity that comes along.

Steel Magic
Steel Magic

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I wish I was the sort of writer who could sit at a computer for hours on end and crank out the words. Instead, I’m a huge fan of the concept of “writing sprints.” Set a time for as little as 5 and as many as 30 minutes and write as fast as possible until the alarm blares. Then get up and do something else for a bit, preferable a task that does not include the computer. My best writing day ever was 3500 words. I also cleaned every window in my house.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Grover! Ironic, considering I’m not always a cheerful person.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy chocolate sprinkles on toast. Creamy peanut butter in cookies.
  • Favorite Sports Team? I married into a Brazilian family, and the World Cup is currently happening. I am legally obligated to answer with the Brazilian Men’s Football Team.
  • Cake or Pie? New York style cheesecake. Preferably one I made myself.
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime, as long as it’s in a caipirinha.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Queso
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Tawny 10-year port
  • Favorite Superhero? My husband
  • Steak Temperature? Medium-rare
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? M*A*S*H
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Summer!
  • Favorite Pet? I live with three amazing Siamese cats who definitely remember their species were once worshipped as gods.
  • Best Game Ever? Spinner
  • Coffee or Tea? All of the above, plus chai
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Both. At the same time.
J.L. Gribble Cats
J.L. Gribble Cats

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

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Rob’s Answer: To play for the Dallas Cowboys. To fly an X-Wing. To be a paladin of legend.

I’ve always been partial to fantasy.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

My schedule for the rest of 2018 includes Pittsburgh’s Confluence in at the end of July, Salt Lake City’s FanX Salt Lake and Washington DC’s Capclave in September, and Baltimore’s ChessieCon in November.

Do you have a creator biography?

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. She is also the film review editor for SpeculativeChic.com. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.

Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.

She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (www.jlgribble.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jlgribblewriter), and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits).

Steel Blood
Steel Blood

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

You should have asked when is your next book release?

People keep congratulating me on finishing my book trilogy. LITTLE DO THEY KNOW: Book 4 in the Steel Empires series, Steel Time, will be released September 2018 from Dog Star Books. Steel Time brings together the leading ladies from Steel Victory, Steel Magic, and Steel Blood as they encounter a literal race against time. The cover reveal is coming soon, so readers have plenty of time (haha, see what I did there?) to catch up on the three previous books!


Finally, let me know any suggestions or comments you have about this interview format so I can keep tweaking it.

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: Grey My Way

Week 27 of 2018

I’m in Indianapolis at the Lincoln Square Pancake House getting ready to load in for InConjunction. They have a take on biscuits and gravy involving jalapeno cornbread and queso. I had to try it.

Anyway, I’m slowly recovering from LibertyCon. What an amazing time. My detailed after-action report is here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1224. LibertyCon is so good, that all 750 tickets for 2019 sold out in 6 hours yesterday. Actually, 5 hours, 52 minutes, and 20 seconds, but who’s counting.

I’ve got mine, don’t worry.

The big result, from my perspective, is a slight change in priorities and focus. I’ve got two books currently planned, None Call Me Mother and The Feeding of Sorrows (working title for the Four Horsemen novel). However, I’m going to turn more focus on some short stories.

This weekend is InConjunction, which is a much different con. I’ll be involved in a variety of panels plus I’ll be selling in the author’s alley next to Jon Osborne, another writer in the 4HU. Then I get home as quickly as I can. I should be back to Olathe on Sunday night.

I’m ready. It’s been a crazy last two months, and I still have a month or so to go. It’s been productive, and I’m really happy with the direction everything is going, but I am so glad I don’t have anything huge scheduled for a while after Pennsic.

Anyway, the stories aren’t going to write themselves, so I better get back to work.

Current Playlist Song

Something too low to hear over the voices of other guests, but with the occasional country twang.

Quote of the Week

I heard this song on the drive yesterday, and as my birthday approaches, it seems more and more relevant.

My life is slipping away
I’m aging every day
But even when I’m grey
I’ll still be grey my way
– Rush, “I Think I’m Going Bald”

News and Works in Progress

  • CB (6560)
  • TAV (2,007)
  • AFS (2,681)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s interview was with Rob Hobart, an amazing gamer and now a writer. You can find the interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1229 and his Amazon page at: https://www.amazon.com/Sword-Amatsu-Empire-Moon-Book-ebook/dp/B07CWKP2LW/.

Today’s Weight: 386.8 (Last week)

Updated Word Count: 154,715 (Finally totaled up everything)

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 376 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: Rob Hobart

I first met Rob Hobart in the mid-90s when I was often going to gaming conventions. He was one of the best DMs around working with Living City and the RPGA.

He, along with Parvez Yusufji, gave me one of my favorite role-playing experiences ever. At a Weekend In Raven’s Bluff I hosted in Wichita mumblety years ago, they DMed a Cthulhu scenario using two parties of six, one on a boat, the other on a submarine, with each group only communicating by walkie-talkie.

We all died, of course. Cthulhu is like that. But man, that was fun.

What is your quest?

After many years working in the RPG hobby and industry, primarily for Call of Cthulhu and Legend of the Five Rings, I’ve decided to move on to writing fiction – which is actually what I intended to do back in my college days, before I got distracted by those pesky games. J I’ve recently self-published my novel The Sword of Amatsu, the first volume of an epic fantasy set in a samurai-themed world.

What is your favorite color?

I’ve always had a taste for adventure stories – whether fantasy, sci-fi, thrillers, or otherwise – that have more serious and sometimes tragic themes. This probably goes back to my lifetime interest in history, especially military history. Even in gaming, the RPGs I was drawn to most strongly were the ones rooted in history and that took danger, death, and Evil seriously.

On the other hand, I reject nihilism, and I don’t care much for the “subvert for the sake of subversion” trend that I see in a lot of recent storytelling, fantasy and otherwise. I write stories that incorporate tragedy and suffering, but that nonetheless seek to evoke heroism and virtue. Both of the five-year organized-play campaigns I created for Legend of the Five Rings were built around this duality of tragedy and heroism, and I am trying to do the same thing in my fiction.

Rob Hobart
Rob Hobart

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

For me, actually getting started writing is always the hardest part. I can tell stories in my head all day long, but forcing myself to just sit down and write them is often incredibly hard. During my time working on Legend of the Five Rings, it was usually the hard reality of deadlines that forced me to overcome this obstacle and actually get work done. As a self-published writer I still wrestle with this challenge, and have developed a variety of tricks – such as posting word-count updates on my FaceBook page – to try to create a sense of obligation that will keep me from procrastinating into oblivion.

In my early days of writing, during and right after college, my other big challenge was in writing characters who were markedly different from myself, especially female characters – like many young men of a nerdly persuasion, I was hapless at dating. I actually wrote two entire novels then which were unpublishable (though proving to myself that I could write entire novels was valuable) and the flat, shallow depictions of women and relationships in those books makes me cringe now. This weakness was partially solved by sheer practice, and partly by marrying and having a daughter.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I think my strength, when I’m writing at my best, is found in evoking a strong emotional response from the audience. The second Legend of the Five Rings organized play campaign I ran ended with a room of a hundred people crying and cheering, which was exactly the result I was hoping for. So far, if reader feedback is to be believed, I think I’ve managed to do the same with my fiction.

One of my touchstones in this regard is actually drawn from the (in)famous anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. That story as a whole was – at least in my view – a hideous evocation of cruelty, nihilism, and despair. But the “Asuka awakens” sequence in the final Evangelion movie, in which she regains her mojo, connects to her long-lost mother, and annihilates the invaders – all to the accompaniment of glorious, triumphant music – is a brief divergence into a different and infinitely better movie, one in which heroism and virtue would have redeemed the whole series. A lot of what I’ve written over the last fifteen years has been an attempt to create a story like the one that scene should have belonged to, and to evoke the emotional response that scene creates in first-time viewers.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? – The Skeksis
  • Crunchy or Creamy? – Creamy. (This question better be about peanut-butter…)
  • Favorite Sports Team? – St Louis Cardinals
  • Cake or Pie? — Pie
  • Lime or Lemon? — Lime
  • Favorite Chip Dip? – Queso
  • Wet or Dry? – Um…
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? – Two Steps From Hell
  • Whisky or Whiskey? – Yuck!
  • Favorite Superhero? – The Punisher
  • Steak Temperature? – Medium
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? – None. They were all terrible.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? – Spring
  • Favorite Pet? – Sweety, a mixed-breed dog I got when I was 9 years old.
  • Best Game Ever? – Legend of the Five Rings, of course!
  • Coffee or Tea? – Coffee
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? – Probably Fantasy, although I enjoy both

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

Biographical info:

Rob Hobart is a lifelong fan of fantasy, science-fiction, Japanese pop culture, role-playing games, and military history. He worked for eight years in the role-playing game industry, serving as line editor, co-designer, and eventual Lead Design of Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition. He lives in rural Missouri with his wife and daughter.

He may, or may not, also be the immortal 4th Earl of Buckinghamshire.


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.

 

 

LibertyCon 2018 AAR

I’m sitting at Prince Street Pizza in Gallatin, TN and I’m exhausted.

Which means my plan is proceeding apace.

I’m in Gallatin because I’ll be staying at Mark and Joy Wandrey’s place for a few days before going to InConjunction this weekend. I’m exhausted because LibertyCon is the best SF/F convention around.

The best part of LibertyCon is the amount of professional networking. I got to plan for new projects and learn from some of the best in the SF/F world. It’s changed my writing schedule a bit, and that’s a good thing. I’ll talk about that more as time goes by, but some of it is too ill-formed at the moment to really discuss yet. However, I’ve planted some seeds in Shijuren and other universes that should end up being very fruitful. I begin the AAR with the networking comments because those started on Thursday before anything else.

I’d like to especially thank Steve Jackson, Bill Fawcett, and Chuck Gannon for taking the time to answer questions and pass on some of the lessons they’ve learned. Great stuff for all of them, and they’re the biggest reason I’ll be adjusting my plans over the next year.

My first panel happened on Friday at 2pm. This panel discussed historical fiction and also history in fiction. It went very well because Louise Herring-Jones, David B. Coe, and I all had good experience with historical processes as well as fiction. We all had lots of good stuff to say. Coe, in particular, showed off why he was  a deserving guest of honor with his discussion about his Thieftaker Chronicles set in Revolutionary War-era Boston.

The rest of Friday involved getting this arranged for Jamie Ibson’s party, Opening Ceremonies, and my Author’s Alley stint. That all went smoothly, including a number of sales in the Alley, which can often be hit or miss. We held Jamie Ibson’s room party in my room to make life easier for Brandy, and it went well. I went to bed late.

Even though I fell asleep late, I was up and lively at the Four Horsemen Roundtable at 10am on Saturday. I had the new laptop set up and showed off some of the wiki, along with showing the author pages. I also edited and added a few Wiki pages live, much to the delight of the audience in a few cases.

Then was the banquet at noon. The banquet is always an interesting animal for me. I don’t usually get big sales or networking, but it’s always enjoyable. Chuck Gannon, by the way, was an amazing MC.

At 3pm I then had a reading. I used Chapter 7, which is the chapter including Olga Belobashnina Cherepanova. It’s actually a perfect section for reading, as it’s essentially an entire story arc on its own. It’s only about 15-18 minutes, which usually means I have more time, so I also read the Epilogue to Brief Is My Flame, which doesn’t really include spoilers, does include the riddle, and hints at what’s coming in None Call Me Mother. The reading went well, though there weren’t many people there. Unfortunately, a woman who heard my reading last year and wanted to hear this year’s showed up after I was done. I ended up giving her my reading copy of the text at the Kaffeeklatsch. Nice, very smart woman who I’m glad likes my stuff.

Anyway, then was my autograph session. That was not particularly well attended, at least not for me, but I got to do some more networking.

At that point, it was time to prepare for the Brief Is My Flame / Four Horsemen room party. I’d like to thank Jamie for helping and contributing, even though he had to be at a different party. Anyway, it was a huge blast. My new drink, the MAC Round, went very well. I sold a few books, made a number of new readers, and we had a great time. I got to sleep about 3.

Which meant the Kaffeeklatsch at 10am was damned early. I made it, but I was generally content to let people swirl around me.

Following that was the Upcoming in the Chris Kennedy Publishing panel. I was in that panel because I’ll have two follow-ups to “Where Enemies Sit” from For a Few Credits More. The first is a short story for the Lyon’s Den anthology that I’ve talked about a couple of times. The second is the full-length novel. I announced the working title of the novel, The Feeding of Sorrows, which, like “Where Enemies Sit,” is a line from the Havamal.

I just want to take a quick moment and thank Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey for letting me be a part of the 4HU and tagging along on their coattails.

Anyway, that was the last thing I had scheduled for the con itself. I went to closing ceremonies, entitled the Bitch at Brandy session where they actively solicit ways to improve LibertyCon. I have no doubt this is one reason this is the best-run convention going. The big announcement was next year’s LibertyCon will be at the Read House on 31 May – 2 June, which is about a month ahead of their traditional date. However, that means LibertyCon 2019 is only 11 months away.

Sunday night at LibertyCon includes a traditional trip to a Brazilian steakhouse and more socializing / networking, and then back to the hotel for the Dead Dog party. Last year at this party, I got to do a play-test of a game similar to Cards Against Humanity with Steve Jackson. This year, I got to play one of the newly released versions of the game, Conspiracy Theory, and even won a copy to bring home. It’s a hoot.

The only real problem with LibertyCon is that there’s so many cool people to talk to and only three days to do so.

Again, I’d like to compliment the staff of LibertyCon. I’m quite serious when I say it’s better run than any other con I’ve ever seen, and it’s not close. Brandy Spraker does a fantastic job organizing things. Rich Groller is the most on-the-ball programming guy around (by a wide margin). It’s actually kind of silly how quickly he responds to stuff. Matthew Fanny keeps track of memberships, and I was a bit of a jerk to him this year as our circumstances kept changing and I switched plans with my membership four or five times. He just took care of me, even though I wasn’t easy. Misty Kat Gutierrez-Walker had the game room thrown at her at essentially the last minute, but, as she has done in the past, kept things going.

This year had to have been hard on them. They didn’t know if they were going to have a site in 2018, so they basically did the normal work of a con in about 6 months, instead of a year. That also included adapting to a new site (the Marriott Downtown), which had very particular rules. A great hotel in many ways, but not necessarily great for LibertyCon. Anyway, they did it all and the only real issues I saw came from hotel weirdnesses (like not having stairs from floor 3 to floor 2 that did not go through “employee only” areas!?!?).

This is my fifth LibertyCon, and like all the others, I’ve come out with improved plans and greater goals. I’m definitely earning a place and a name in this business in great part because of this con.

So, I know where I’ll be the weekend after Memorial Day in 2019.