Rob’s Update: A Single Perfect Sphere

Week 39 of 2018

Greetings all

The good news is that I reached my 50th birthday this summer. The bad news is that reaching 50 comes with some new, fun routine medical stuff. One of those things happened this week. I had an unpleasant Tuesday, a worse Wednesday morning, and a stoned Wednesday afternoon. Suffice to say, while I’m glad I did it, I didn’t enjoy it despite the doctors and nurses doing a great job taking care of me.

That slowed me down this week, but I still had a productive week. I sent off a short story to an editor this morning. I *think* it’s pretty good. The story certainly jumped into my head and demanded to be written. However, I never know if a story is any good until someone else sees it. Now all I have to do is wait until the editor reads it and gives me some feedback. Argh.

Anyway, I didn’t do much with The Feeding of Sorrows this week because I wanted to get that story out of the door. What I did do was add some scene ideas. I discovered that while I’ll never plot huge details, I am having some success scribbling scene/chapter ideas on 3×5 cards. I used a similar technique when heralding an SCA court and I’ve already seen some benefits.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a writer it’s that there’s one true way of writing and that’s what gets words on the page. Unfortunately, that one true way is not necessarily obvious and I keep trying to improve my methods. Keep plugging away.

Speaking of plugging away, Tales from the Lyon’s Den was released today. I’m not in it.

However, I’m in the second of these two anthologies, which will be called Luck Is Not a Factor, which is coming out in about a month. The Four Horsemen Universe is huge, and I’m glad I get to play in that sandbox.

I head down to the Great Plains Renaissance Festival in Wichita today. I’ll be in the Author’s Pavilion, so if you’re out there, come on by.

Have a great week, everyone.

Current Playlist Song

The Trees by Rush. Lots of listening to Rush lately. Shocking, I know.

Quote of the Week

I mentioned it yesterday in my Magazine Review this week, but it’s such a good quote I’m going to use it again.

“Let the truth of Love be lighted
Let the love of truth shine clear
Sensibility
Armed with sense and liberty
With the Heart and Mind united
In a single perfect sphere”
Cygnus X-1, Book 2: Hemispheres, Rush

News and Works in Progress

  • The Feeding of Sorrows (approx. 20,000)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AFS (2,556)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Wes Yahola. You can find his interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1418

Today’s Weight: 380.8

Updated Word Count: 203,126

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 417 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

Mag Review: If (June, 1957)

Greetings all

This week I’m reviewing the If (Volume 7, No. 4) from June, 1957. I guessed I was going to like this one, given that it has an Asimov and a Biggle, but if I had any doubt, the rocket rotorship Mars lander by Mel Hunter that’s on the cover with the diagram on the inside front cover.

Mars Rocket Rotorship
Mars Rocket Rotorship

Table of Contents: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?58771

This issue starts with the Editor’s Report by James L. Quinn. It’s a bunch of short, interesting things he’s found in the previous month. He had a good eye and in this day and age he would probably be a well-followed blogger.

In this case, much of what he included relates to this issue of If, including small biographies of a couple authors in the issue. I wish more editors had done this, actually, as it’s quite interesting to see what the editor thought at the moment, especially before I read the stories.

He also talked about the Industrial Bulletin, which was a small sheet of interesting, fact-filled information. 1957 Clickbait! I’m a sucker for that sort of thing, and now I’m putting A Scientific Sampler, which has the best predictions, facts, and notes in my Amazon wishlist.

And if you need help with math you can get the IBM 709. The stats are amazing. 42,000 additions or subtractions per second. Multiplication and division at 5,000 per second. 327,000 decimal digits can be stored in it’s magnetic core, and any word in the core can be found in 12 millionths of a second. And then the piece de resistance, “You can get a typical system for about $3,000,000, or rent one for $56,000 per month! (p. 3)”

If (June, 1957) Cover
If (June, 1957) Cover

So, I suppose I should actually talk about the stories in this issue. First is Pretty Quadroon by Charles Fontenay. It’s a fascinating story about a number of different timelines related to whether there’s a second Civil War. Basically, if Beauregard Courtney meets and loves Piquette, then there will be a second war of varying results. In one, the South wins, in another the North wins, in a third the Russians nuke New York and other cities. If he doesn’t meet her, the second war does not happen.

This story is both well-written and fascinating, given that it’s written by a Tennessee man during the beginning of integration in the south. Not only that, it has the backdrop of the Cold War and fears of nuclear war. The story is thoughtful, challenging, and yet smooth to read. It is no wonder it was republished in Jim Baen’s Universe of October, 2008.

Walter Tevis is next with Operation Gold Brick and wow, what a fascinating find! Tevis is the author of The Hustler and The Color of Money. His other novel that got turned into a movie was The Man Who Fell to Earth, which starred David Bowie.

The story is a fun one about the US Army trying to build a tunnel through the Appalachians for a monorail track. They have a converter which easily cuts through the stone and creates a perfect tunnel, but suddenly it stops, having hit on a large gold brick. They try a pick, otherwise known as a manual converter, but that doesn’t work.

Then the  Army tries a variety of increasingly absurd ideas. They convert the *entire* mountain, but all they manage to do is end up with a gold brick sitting in the air about four feet off the ground. A physicist comes in and says this is the point, the fulcrum point, of Earth’s orbit. Ultimately, with a super bomb, they manage to move it, which sends the Earth on an orbit which will fall into the sun.

As a side note, this is message fiction done right. The story is humorous, catchy, and the reader keeps wanting to know more. In some ways it is a short story version of Dr. Strangelove. This story makes me wonder if Peter George, who wrote Red Alert, the basis of Dr. Strangelove, had read it, because it has the same sort of humor and message.

Next is an essay by Robert S. Richardson entitled the Face of Mars. You might have read his science fiction under the name Philip Latham. This essay talks about telescope images he worked with when Mars approached very close to the Earth in 1956. Reading the science articles in these magazines is odd to me.

I am no scientist, though I’ve read quite a bit about various scientific topics (and more now that I’m a writer, shout-out to my monitors at the FBI and NSA). However, I am standing on the shoulders of giants. I know more about Mars than Richardson did, yet he was widely recognized as an expert. He even helped as a technical assistant for Destination Moon. It’s a weird thought that’s hard to avoid as he’s describing specific aspects of astronomy and it all seems fairly basic. Amazing what’s transpired in 62 years.

Aldo Giunta’s Jingle in the Jungle is the next story. I had never heard of Giunta before, and it’s no surprise. This is the only speculative fiction he ever published. He was a playwright and a cabinet maker, as you can see from the linked obituary.

This story is about a future where boxing is much like it was in the 1930s, especially with all the corruption and fixing, except with robots.

This was another great story. A trainer, Charlie Jingle, has been working with an old boxing robot, Tanker Bell, for fourteen years. It’s way out of date and they can hardly get any fights. Then they stumble into a fight and beat the contender robot made by the shiny, big fighting-robot corporation.

But it’s a fix. It’s all a fix. The goal is to build up an outsider and suggest it has a chance. Then the champ wins big and looks even better and better. But Charlie has another idea and he tricks the Tanker into thinking he hasn’t got a chance and gets the robot mad and tricky. Ultimately Tanker Bell wins, and it is only then that he realizes his trainer has tricked him and gotten him to fight better than his best. Rocky before Rocky and with robots.

Isaac Asimov is one of my favorite writers. The Foundation and Hari Seldon shaped a style of magic in my world of Shijuren. Elijah Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw helped convince me hardboiled detectives can work in any time period. His entry in this issue shows why.

This issue’s entry is Does a Bee CareIf you click on the title links of most stories, you’ll find that the links almost always go to the bare ISFDB page. There’s rarely much on those pages, and I link to them as much to highlight the title as I do to give you places to find more information. In this case, though, the story is so powerful that it has its own Wikipedia page.

The story goes like this. An ovum was placed on Earth. The ovum grew to a creature that looked like it was human, though it was not. For 8,000 years it influenced civilization to help humanity achieve spaceflight. In the story, it has ensured that in one of the first rockets to the moon there’s space enough for it to fit inside. When the rocket reaches space the creature achieves full maturity. It is, finally, able to return to its home.

The twist is that while we see the creature manipulating things, Asimov guides us along the path of focusing on its point of view. Then at the end, asks if the bee cares what has happened to the flower after it has gotten the pollen. What a neat take on things.

Lloyd Biggle, Jr. is next with …On the Dotted Line. The story is about a car salesman getting transported to the year 2337. He’s a great salesman, but in 2337 salesmen are hypnotists, and all he’s got is psychology.

But that’s what he is, a salesman and he’s got to figure out how to make his way. Fortunately for him, after a couple of years the hypnotists are discovered and Congress passes laws outlawing hypnotism in sales. This is the salesman’s chance.

And he does pretty well, for a time. However, with his sales comes publicity, and after people have seen his pitch, they don’t buy and he loses his sales job. He’s a smart man and he succeeds in the field of space mining. He finally, however, figures out how to sell one more thing, essentially the moon Callisto, and retires, confident in his ability. At the end, though, the compulsion is still there, and he’s looking about for something else to sell.

It’s a good story, which doesn’t surprise me. Biggles had a neat way of looking at things, I’ve found, and this is an example. He made a *salesman* into a sympathetic figure.

Dan Galouye is another new writer to me. His story here is Shuffle Board. This is the first average story in this issue. Earth in a century or so will be filled with various radioactive waste. The main character is tasked with preventing the radioactivity from contaminating as much as possible. In the end, the increased radioactivity changes humanity so we’re not as susceptible to its affects.

I think this story didn’t catch me because it seemed a little obvious to me, but that’s in part because of my perspective in 2018 as opposed to 1957. I sort of expect humanity to adjust, if needed. More importantly, I felt the underlying causes see farfetched now. This is unfortunate, because the story is well-written. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from Galouye, and maybe the twist at the end will surprise me.

As a side note. Dear Editor of any magazine, please avoid, “Continued on page X” for any story, especially for the last 3 paragraphs. Ah, well.

Anyway, the next story is called The Human Element by Leo Kelley. It’s a fun story that connected to me because our protagonist hearkens back to an earlier time. Unfortunately, in his era, living in the past would get you sent to the Psych center.

If (June, 1957) Science Quiz
If (June, 1957) Science Quiz

However, our hero has expressed his rebellion by putting on a clown suit and running onto stage in a modern day circus. The circus is nothing like we would think, and no one there had seen a clown before. He’s a hit, and the circus owners hire him. In many ways, this story is nothing but the cotton candy the hero reminisces about. But I am someone who lives in the past quite often, and I do wonder about today’s society.

Next is a fun little game, a science quiz. I’ve included the image. Have fun.

Then we have a series of science briefs. More little notes and tidbits from science. The most interesting one to me was the idea that we’d have nuclear-powered aircraft in the early 1960s.

Finally, we get to Hue and Cry, the letters to the editor. I always enjoy reading these, and this one had several focused on the idea of humanity and humanism as discussed in a previous If. Oddly, as I type this, I happen to be listening to the album Hemispheres by Rush. The title song is about humanity’s challenge to balance thought and emotion, which apparently the earlier If issue talked about. Odd timing, there.

But it’s an excuse to include this wonderful Rush quote:

“Let the truth of Love be lighted
Let the love of truth shine clear
Sensibility
Armed with sense and liberty
With the Heart and Mind united
In a single perfect sphere”
Cygnus X-1, Book 2: Hemispheres, Rush

Overall, this was one of the better magazines I’ve seen so far. It didn’t sell well, though, and is one of the shorter-lived SF mags of the time. It’s a shame, though, because I’m looking forward to reading more of them.

Next week I’ll be reviewing the most modern issue I’ve read so far, the Fantastic from March, 1974. This issue’s cover story is by Brian Aldiss and Fritz Lieber reviews some books. Good stuff to look forward to.

Have a great day, everyone.


If you have any comments or would like to request I keep my eyes open for a specific issue or month, feel free to comment here or send an email to me at: rob@robhowell.org.

If you want to see previous reviews, the Mag Review category is here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=432.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

Interview: Wes Yahola

Greetings all

This week I’m interviewing Wes Yahola. We met at the final ConStellation in Huntsville, AL. It’s a shame it was the last time they had it, because it was a great con. One reason was getting to meet Wes, who shared a panel with me and we got to know each other while sitting in Author’s Alley.

Interview: Wes Yahola

What is your quest?

I seek to craft the most interesting of thrilling fantasy, the types of stories that keep people up late at night and turn them into bleary-eyed zombies for the next day at work because they couldn’t stand to put down one of my books and go to sleep.

What is your favorite color?

The color of determination. The color of sitting down and getting to work. The color of getting out of my own way. I think these are all red, but they might be more of a rose or apple color.

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

The same speed as that of an overburdened editor. Go-Work-On-Something-Else-While-They-Get-To-You miles per hour. Limit: Just Short of Exhaustion, Minimum Speed: Don’t Let It Distract You.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

Explosive pacing that sends out shrapnel made of cliffhanging chapter ends. Actually hearing from people who really did stay up later than they intended because of the way my chapters ended, and their smaller then usual size, has been very gratifying.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? The canceled ones.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Creamy.
  • Favorite Sports Team? The football team of my son’s high school.
  • Cake or Pie? Yes, please.
  • Lime or Lemon? See Cake or Pie.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? A good home made meaty “rotel”
  • Wet or Dry? Dry.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? I doubt I’m cool enough to give a proper answer so I’ll say the Yeah Yeah Yeahs followed closely by Metric.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Just one, neat, and I don’t care how you spell it.
  • Favorite Superhero?    Mr. Kent
  • Steak Temperature? Not hot, but warm enough to not be sure if it’s crossed that line.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? M*A*S*H
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall.
  • Favorite Pet?  The one and only Mia the border collie.
  • Best Game Ever? D&D 3.5, core books only.
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee first, then tea.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy?  Fantasy.

What question(s) would you like to ask me? What are your favorite Conventions to attend as a panelist/guest?

Rob’s Answer: The best convention out there by a long mile is LibertyCon. The people who run that con are by far the most efficient of any con. I’ve always appreciated Rich Groller, who has run their programming and he is amazing. He responds almost immediately every email I’ve ever sent. Brandy does a great job organizing and making sure everyone has fun, while still being in charge. Those are just two of the con’s staff, but I could compliment all of them. Truly it’s a step above in terms of organization.

It’s also a step above in terms of the happenings at the con. It’s limited to 750 attendees, which is a fantastic size. The quality of the attendees is fantastic, too. I have learned more at the LibertyCons I’ve attended than everything else combined.

To be fair, there haven’t been many cons that haven’t been fun and productive. Even at DragonCon, where I really didn’t have enough to do professionally, I had a good time. Frankly, LibertyCon is like Ted Williams. It’s not a criticism to say that Joe Dimaggio wasn’t as good a hitter as the Splendid Splinter.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

The first chapter to The Artifice Conspiracy is available at WesYahola.com. The book is available in hardback, trade paperback, and e-books of various types. I enjoy doing conventions and panels and recently worked with fellow Dark Oak Press writer Pat Sawtelle on a World Building panel which was recorded and will be available on the Dark Oak Press website. On my website I list most of the panels I have been on and they include everything from world building to other aspects of writing, to gaming and fandom.

My second book, The Treasure Betrayals is in an editor’s hands. My third is in the plotting and draft zero stage.

And where can we find you?

Next at the Memphis Comic and Fantasy convention, then MidSouthCon, also in Memphis.

Do you have a creator biography?

Wes Yahola is the next best thing to a lifelong Memphian, having bounced around from Raleigh to Midtown to the University Area to just at the eastern fringes. His high school days got him started on the strange path of radio, which brought him through the night to his place as a producer and co-host on the Drake in the Morning show on 98.1 the Max (WXMX). He can also be heard playing rock songs in the middle of most Saturdays on that same radio station.

A lifelong reader who began devouring comics before he could understand all the words, Wes has long been a fan of fantasy and science fiction, and also enjoys thrillers and books about history. Once in a while he’s written stories of his own. He’s been playing games even longer, enjoying new and classic board games, card games, and tabletop R.P.G.s. Once in a while he’s designed and written his own.

All this came together with the publishing of his first novel – the Artifice Conspiracy, a fantasy thriller involving spies, sabotage, rebellion, and the unleashing of a powerful weapon of magic. Thanks to Black Oak Press for publishing it, and to everyone who’s bought and read the thing.

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not? Why do you do this to yourself?

You should have asked what kind of stories I like to read. I want to read the kinds of stories I’m writing. I’m compelled to contribute something of what I like to the rest of the world to see who else wants the same thing.


Thanks to Wes for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know 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.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

Rob’s Update: In A Hole In The Ground

Week 38 of 2018

Greetings all

This was not my best week ever. I caught a bit of con crud at TopCon and never really got myself going. That’s one reason why every one of my weekly posts happened today. Sorry about that.

I don’t get con crud often, and this time was kind of odd because the con had very little traffic. I sold enough, I suppose, but only because it was close enough for me to stay at home.

However, I’m glad I went because I got to hang out several friends, including James L. Young and Christopher Woods. In fact, Young helped me add a new event, the Great Plains Renaissance Festival in Wichita next weekend. If you’re in Wichita, come on by, I’ll be in the Author’s Pavilion.

Anyway, I didn’t get much written or done, which is annoying. My big accomplishment was making sure my sweetie got fed. That’s about it, though it’s important.

Today, I’m watching football and catching up with stuff, including my update. One thing I’m doing now is trying some new social media things. You’ll see me using hashtags much more often. Here are some you’ll see from now on.

  • #RobInterviewsCreators: My weekly interviews
  • #RobsReviews: Primarily for my magazine reviews, but I’ll tag anything I review on this blog
  • #RobsUpdate: These reviews.
  • #Shijuren: Anything related to me or Shijuren

I’ve also added the ability for you to share my posts at the bottom of each entry. If you like what I’m doing, please don’t hesitate to share.

It’s Cowboys v. Seattle, so I’m going to pay attention to that and write later. Have a great day.

Current Playlist Song

Since I’m watching the Cowboys game right now, I’m going to chat about my listening habits of late. Thanks to a buddy’s suggestion, I’ve been listening to Rush in album order. I keep forgetting just how good some songs I don’t listen to often actually are, especially in the context of the album. Clockwork Angels continues to amaze. It really is the best album of all time.

Quote of the Week

Friday (when I was supposed to my update) was the release of The Hobbit in 1937, so this one was easy.

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort
J.R.R. Tolkien

News and Works in Progress

  • RTM (3,416)
  • The Feeding of Sorrows (approx. 20,000)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AFS (2,556)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Mel Todd, and it’s one of the more fun interviews I’ve had. You can find it here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1401.

Today’s Weight: 384.2

Updated Word Count: 1057

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 417 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

Mag Review: Galaxy (August, 1962)

Greetings all

Sorry I’m a bit late with this. I caught a bit of con crud at TopCon and was not terribly energetic earlier in the week. Anyway, this week I’ll look at Galaxy, Vol. 20, No. 6 (August, 1962). It’s got quite a few interesting names on the front like Jack Vance and Frederik Pohl and an armored knight charging into battle on odd insect-looking dragons. Right up my alley.

Cover of the August, 1962 Galaxy
Cover of the August, 1962 Galaxy

Table of Contents: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?58677

This issue starts with an editorial attempting to define progress. It is, not surprisingly, a moving target, and the conclusion is that we need science fiction so we can look at ourselves from the outside. I agree that we need to look at ourselves from the outside, but I’m not sure we needed a 750-word or so editorial to tell us that.

Ah, well. Deadlines make for hurried editorials, as well I remember from my newspaper days way back when.

First is Jack Vance’s novel The Dragon Masters which won the Hugo in 1963 for Best Short Fiction. This is a story consisting of four main foes. Joaz, the protagonist of the story and leader of one faction of humans on Aerlith. Elvis, the leader of the other humans. Then there are the sacerdotes, who view themselves as overmen. Finally there are the Basics, a race of intelligent lizard/insects who live on a different planet that only visit Aerlith when their stars approach each other.

It is from genetically adapted Basic captured in a previous visit that the humans on Aerlith develop a variety of dragons. These dragons are armed with maces on the end of tails and axes on arms. These weapons all go along with the normal spikes, horns, and claws. In return, the Basic developed their own army from genetically altered humans. The sacerdotes have genetically altered themselves and set themselves to a regimen of contemplation and learning.

Humanity as a species is nearly extinct, yet none of the human groups are willing to work with Joaz, though he seeks their help. His desire for assistance is pushed by the approach of the Basic planet. In the end Joaz wins, after a chaotic four-way fight.

One moment that struck me is when a character interacts with a sacerdote. It reminded me of the Readers in my world of Shijuren. People who gather knowledge but stay out of the fray. I did not get the idea from Vance, rather the Readers are a combination of Asimov’s Foundation, Gandalf, and a few other tidbits here and there. It’s fun to see other authors have similar ideas.

However, I did not particularly like this story. Maybe it was the artwork, which was sharp, and odd as you can see from the cover. Jack Gaughan did the artwork and he drew just about every kind of creature involved. The image on the cover was fun and creepy, but by the end of the story had a wrongness.

And that mirrors my view of the story. It was long, almost 90 pages, and I never really got caught up in it. I can see why it won the Hugo, as there are a lot of elements that I suspect many other readers will like, but for me it was a slog. It was perhaps too complex in some ways yet too simplistic in others. I don’t know. In any case, while I normally like Vance, this story didn’t suit me.

Next was Handyman by Frank Banta. I don’t know much about Banta but I liked this story. Unlike The Dragon MastersHandyman was very short, only three pages. However, that worked for the story. Our hero, James,  is constantly chopping up wooden doors so he can burn them for heat. The building’s carpenter cheerily comes to replace it every time. James keeps asking to help with the heating plant, as the carpenter doesn’t have the skills to fix it. However, James is a prisoner and prisoners aren’t allowed to work on things.

Throughout the story, James tries to find solutions to his various problems, but certain things aren’t proper, like him working on the plant. He tries to dig a tunnel, but the foundations of the prison go too deep. He can’t even call for help because he and the carpenter were left behind when all other humans left Earth.

And the carpenter is a robot.

Next comes a science article by Willy Ley. This particular article discusses the odd nautical phenomena of big, bright pinwheels. He goes through all the logged entries of this phenomena, maps them, and then goes through a few ideas of what might cause them.

Humorously, the ISFDB page on our next author, Jack Sharkey, only lists his Danish Wikipedia page. The only Jack Sharkey in the English Wikipedia is a boxer from the 1920s, and he’s an interesting guy too being the only person to fight both Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis.

But I digress. Shocking I know. Anyway, his story is A Matter of Protocol. The story is about making first contact. Humans have developed a  system to allow alien zoologists to meld with the minds of creatures on a planet. in this case, the planet is a green jungle where it turns out there are only a few species. These species work in a close symbiotic relationship. Unfortunately, simply landing on the planet ending up damaging some of the trees, and in two months the planet is a lifeless ball.

I have mixed feeling about this story. On the one hand, it’s got a couple of plot holes that I don’t like. The planet only has a few species, and and find that difficult to accept. Two, I grew up in Kansas, where the Flint Hills are routinely control burned because the prairie grass evolved to get hit by lightning and then burn, uncontrolled, so it can refresh itself. I find it challenging to think that the creatures on this planet are so simple to destroy when crazy, accidental stuff is just going to happen.

On the other hand, the story is well-written, innovative, and talks about the tough  question of first contact. I’m glad I read it, and I’d like to read more of Sharkey, but this story fought me.

Before I get to the next story, I have to mention the ad on page after Sharkey’s story. For $2.00, you can order a copy of The Complete Guide to Orbiting Satellites. It’s actually loose-leaf, and promises consistent updates. I don’t actually know how many satellites were in orbit in 1962, but it goes over the communication, weather, navigation, and reconnaissance satellites at the time. Even in 1962, I’d have paid $2.00 for that.

Frederik Pohl is next with a story called Three Portraits and a Prayer. Pohl was actually the editor of this issue, but of course he was a fantastic writer. I loved the Heechee series.

But this isn’t his best story. Basically, a dying genius physicist gives an evil billionaire enough knowledge to become dictator, but eventually manages to kill him. This story could have been great, because Pohl’s prose is excellent, but there are two problems. One, it’s message fiction. Knowledge should be free, among other things. Message fiction is not necessarily bad, but the story has to be better, in my opinion. Unfortunately, all the action happens off screen. Our narrator is the genius’s doctor and all we see is what he sees and much of the story is his opinion. I want to see the action, not what someone else knows and thinks of the action.

Jim Harmon is next with Always a Qurono. This is the second time I’ve run across Harmon. He had a story in the Mag Review I did for the Spaceway from June, 1954 that I really liked.

And I liked this story too, though it’s a bit confusing. A crew mutinies and maroons its captain on a planet occupied by Quronos. These are androids developed by someone in the past. They will “geoplanct” and “xenogut” every day on a schedule. The tagline is, “You too can be a Qurono. All you need do is geoplanct. All you need know is when to stop!” The captain emulates the Qurono and they revere him as a master, but then he continues and they realize he’s not actually anything special and they send him into space.

The crew that mutinied had tried to escape, but the Qurono forced them back and they rescue the captain. Then he imposes a new regimen on the crew, forcing them to geoplanct. Reluctantly, the crew obeys.

My confusion is that I simply don’t know what geoplanct or xenogut exactly mean, nor can find them any definition. I suspect Harmon hid some extra punch in those words, but I just don’t know. Still, Harmon is clearly a skilled writer as you are following intently what is going on.

So we move on to the essay The Luck of Magnitudes by George O. Smith. It discusses just how lucky we are that Earth is at the convenient place that it is, not simply for life but also for humanity’s ability to look at space around them, especially the moon. It’s a neat article, more interesting than I expected when I started it, because it involves how ancient astronomers looked at the sky.

The last story in this issue is One Race Show by John Jakes. John Jakes? Yep, the same guy known for historical fiction. I had no idea he wrote SF/F and now I see a lot of stuff I want to read like the Brak the Barbarian series.

Anyway, this is perhaps the perfect story for this issue. It’s about the owner of a gallery jealous because another gallery got amazing pictures from an unknown artist. They discover that the artist is so powerful because he draws what he sees in people’s heads.

It’s the perfect story for this issue because it’s well-written but not enjoyable. At least to me. Other people may find this issue really good, but I’ve found much better.

There are a few more details to discuss. The last section are  Floyd C. Gale’s reviews. The most interesting of these is his review of Harry Harrison’s The Stainless Steel Rat, which he really likes.

There’s not many ads in this issue, so other than the ad I mentioned earlier, there’s not much to talk about.


If you have any comments or would like to request I keep my eyes open for a specific issue or month, feel free to comment here or send an email to me at: rob@robhowell.org.

If you want to see previous reviews, the Mag Review category is here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=432.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

Interview: Mel Todd

Mel and I have seen each other at a number of cons, but it was only this past LibertyCon we had a real chance to chat. She’s got a great sense of humor, as you’ll see…

Interview: Mel Todd
Mel Todd
Mel Todd

What is your quest?

To tell the stories I can’t find. To show people ways reality can twist, and how the ordinary person can prove themselves extraordinary.

What is your favorite color?

Purple!  Lol – one of the things I love to do is set my desktop wallpaper to random and load different themes.  For a while it was Hubble Telescope pictures, then walls of covers from multiple genres, right now it is all “You should be writing” meme’s.  I will say Tom Hiddleston’s Loki might have one or two in there.

Cover of No Choice
Cover of No Choice

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

Oh, number one – don’t join a romance group and let them read your non-romance sci-fi.  You will walk away thinking you are the worst writer ever.  Asking for help is great, but make sure they LIKE the genre you are writing in.  Hmmm… life.  Life is hard sometimes.  Finding time to write is even harder.  Make it a priority, but be nice to yourself and accept you can only do so much.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

Wait you get a holy hand grenade?  No fair. AT all.  All I have is a Cat of Superciliousness. So on those days I just can’t – the want to suck the thumb and crawl into a ball – those days?  5 minute timer.  You only have to write for 5 minutes – nonstop, 5 minutes.  Most of the time I’ll decide I can do another 5 minutes.  You’d be amazed how much you can get if you just do it for 5, 10, 15 minutes.  Otherwise creatively?  I talk to myself – a lot.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet?   Miss Piggy!  Sexy, confident, and has a tail.  How can you not love her?
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy.  I want my nuts to have substance.
  • Favorite Sports Team? ….. Ravenclaws?
  • Cake or Pie? Pie.  With ice cream or cheddar cheese if apple.
  • Lime or Lemon?  Yes
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  … salsa – especially good with cream cheese.
  • Wet or Dry? I didn’t realize this was an X-Rated interview.  I’d have to make sure all your readers are over 18 to answer that.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Ohh… I don’t know if I am that obsure of a music person – relatively common Sisters of Mercy and Johnny Horton.
  • Whisky or Whiskey?  Yes
  • Favorite Superhero? She-Hulk.  Sorry I LOVE Jennifer Walters.  She is so awesome. No angst, rolled with it, and rocked it.
  • Steak Temperature?  Blood should be dripping.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? I don’t recall telling you how ancient I am – but Bionic Woman.  Jamie Summers is my idol.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall?  Fall, dear goddess Fall.  I want my apple cider, my fireplace, my smores!
  • Favorite Pet?  Oh my pussy – ha, told you, no X-rated answers.  I have 3 cats who all feel like I serve them.  So, yeah.  I’m owned.  I admit it.
  • Best Game Ever?  …. You hate me don’t you.  How do you expect me to choose?  So… Colossal Cave Adventure all the way up to Planescape Torment to WoW…. And lots in between.  Then there is Munchkin and Solitare and Gems of War and LARP and White Wolf and D&D (I’m agnostic sorry) so Best Game Ever – the one I am playing at this moment.  Which happens to be called My Creative Brain Hates me.
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee in the mornings, iced tea in the summer evenings, and hot tea with spirits in the winter evenings.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy?  Yes.  What?  I like to try different flavors.  I’m equal opportunity.  ~Wiggles eyesbrows~
Cover of Rage
Cover of Rage

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

Well, Rob….. oh.. x-rated.. right.  So – dang it all my questions are business related and probably REALLY boring to anyone not trying to make a living at this, so Dragoncon yes?

Rob’s Answer: Well, since this is well after DragonCon I can reliably inform you I’m unlikely to go in 2018. Actually, I did not have a great time at DragonCon last year. It was fun, but not the amount of fun I paid for.

A big part of why is that I love my job. I enjoy being on panels. I like interacting with writers and readers. The bigger a con is the more difficult that becomes, especially since I’m not yet a big enough name for DragonCon to approve me as an attending professional.

Also, I recently moved and frankly needed a fall with few long trips. I go to Pennsic every year where I make money and people know me. It’s only a few weeks before DragonCon and I just didn’t have enough spoons to push to go.

Will I go in 2019? I don’t know. It’ll depend on where my career is to an extent. Ask me at LibertyCon.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

OOOH… Self Promo!!!   www.badashpublishing.com we has books, we has blogs and we will be at LibertyCon in 2019 and Dragoncon always.  What can I say, I’m addicted.

And where can we find you?

Oh… umm.. I wrote the above before I read this.. um…  Moonlight and Magnolias in 2018 and 20booksto50kVegas in 2018.  Hmm… otherwise, beg me to come (oops x-rated again) and I’ll think about it.

Do you have a creator biography?

And low the heavens opened and then slammed shut again, leaving Mel standing in the wet dreary California farmland.  What shall become of our waif? Tune in to find out.

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

Hmmm.. name/species/orientaion might have been a good start. Mel Todd – human (maybe), vertical most of the time, except when I’m horizontal.


Thanks to Mel Todd for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know 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: Ain’t No Mountain

Week 37 of 2018

I suspect we often forget just how much stuff we have to hang on the walls. I know I didn’t actually realize just how much I’ve got. SCA awards and memories, sports memorabilia, family and friends, maps, ships and aircraft, and, of course, Rush posters and memories. Oh, and fantasy art. Plus other random stuff.

Sheesh.

And that doesn’t count the stuff my sweetie has. At least we’ve started the process but man there’s a lot.

After I finish this email, I’m headed off to TopCon in Topeka. I’ve generally done a poor job of publicizing myself in the region, and this is another opportunity to fix that. I’m making progress, but I should have done better previously.

The Magazine Reviews have helped with that. I often don’t get to go to the Kansas City SF/F fan group meetings because of conflicts. September’s is scheduled for tomorrow, for example. However, I’ve been able to interact with some of those writers and fans a bit by chatting about the reviews. This week’s review, by the way, is the Analog of September, 1968.

In general, I’ve been very pleased with the response on those reviews. It’s especially gratifying because I enjoy doing the reviews and I can see them already improving my writing. Lots of win to go around.

This week, I didn’t write a ton, but what I did is good. Damn good. I’m making progress and stories are starting to flow on their own. I probably won’t finish The Feeding of Sorrows by the end of September, but I will have finished another project that will be announced in due time.

And now, time to get to Topeka and make ready for the weekend.

Current Playlist Song

Today Brewbaker’s Pandora is set to disco and motown. I have to admit, I enjoy a goodly amount of disco and motown, even though I’m more of a metal and hard rock guy. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.

Quote of the Week

Today’s quote is sort of by me and sort of by Dante Alighieri. I’ll be at a con this weekend, which means I’ll be signing books, which then means I’ll be having customers roll on my Wandering Signature Chart. This is one of my favorites…

“Abandon all hope, ye who read my books.”

News and Works in Progress

  • RTM (3,416)
  • The Feeding of Sorrows (approx. 20,000)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AFS (2,556)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Bethany Loughlin-Frost. You can find the interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1384 and her Amazon page at: https://www.amazon.com/Bethany-Frost/e/B01AR1SWUG/.

Today’s Weight: 384.6

Updated Word Count: 189,305

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 417 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

Mag Review: Analog (September, 1968)

Greetings all

This week I am reading Analog, Vol. LXXXII, No.1 (September, 1968). This, and others in this time period interest me, because I was a month or two old when it hit the stands.

Table of Contents: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?56820

Analog (September, 1968)
Analog (September, 1968)

This has been my favorite cover so far. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show well online, as the colors are fairly dark. However, it has giant otters and one’s carrying a trumpet. How cool is that?

The giant otters show up in the first part of The Tuvela by James Schmitz, which starts the issue off. The two parts are later expanded to become The Demon Breed. I’ve been exposed to only a little of Schmitz before, mostly through the Telzey and Trigger republishing by Baen which you can find here: https://www.baen.com/original-edition-of-edited-schmitz-stories.html.

Now, one would expect that if a serial was turned into a full-length novel, it was probably a pretty good story. And one would be correct, at least in the case of Tuvela. I really enjoyed the first part, am looking forward to finding the second part, and may just skip ahead and read The Demon Breed instead.

The story involves a race called the Parahuans, who had attacked humanity previously and been defeated. How the humans won puzzled them, as in their world view they were the most superior creatures in existence. However, they hypothesize that humanity is controlled by a greater version of humans called the Guardians or the Tuvela. They choose to test this hypothesis out on a water planet called Nandy-Cline.

This hypothesis is crap, of course, but it gives our heroes a chance to bluff the Parahuans into not attacking again. Schmitz does a fantastic job of giving us active prose when much of it is solving a puzzle.

As part of this story, our heroes are aided by otters that have quickly evolved on Nandy-Cline to be intelligent at some level. At this point, we don’t really know just how smart they are, but we can guess they are very smart indeed. I suspect there’s a twist coming related to them in the final part of the story. I look forward to reading it.

The next story is by Harry Harrison and is called The Powers of Observation. Obviously, Harrison is remembered most by the Stainless Steel Rat, which I read a long time ago and clearly need to read again.

This story, however, is actually set in a Cold War Yugoslavia. As such this lets me do one of my favorite tricks when it comes to reading books now, and that’s looking at the satellite imagery of places that are mentioned. The Powers of Observation gives me a cool one by mentioning the Maslenica Bridge. Why is this cool? Well, that bridge has its own story to tell. It was destroyed in the war, a new one was built in 1997 near it, and then a new version of the old one was built later on. I find that sort of thing fun, call me crazy, and in any case I was able to follow the chase in the story from the sky.

Chase? Oh, yeah, the story itself, I should talk about that. It’s a very Bond kind of story where the hero spots a man sinking too deep into the sand at a beach. Some kind of superman, dense bone structure or something. Anyway, the hero has to chase him down, which he eventually does and they get into a fight. He shoots the bad guy but bullets bounce off of him, and we discover he’s a robot.

Our hero manages to defeat him, and then tears him apart to get pictures of his engineering. He takes a bunch of pictures with his chest camera. Chest camera? Oh, our hero was a robot too, and Harrison lets him sneer at the difference between Russian and American design philosophies at the end. I was so caught up in the chase that I didn’t see the hints until until I went back later.

Wallace West is next with Steamer Time. I’d not heard of West prior to this. He wrote quite a few stories in the 50s and before. This particular one is an essay on the possibility of replacing internal combustion engines with steam engines in cars. I was kind of bemused by the idea, but there are advantages to steam power.

One that West focuses on is emissions, based on the Air Quality Act of 1967 in response to the smog in California at the time. There are a number of other technical topics I’m not smart enough to grasp, but it’s an interesting topic. I’ve no clue if this is practical now or not, but there were steam-powered cars built in the 1960s so there’s probably a way to do that engineering now.

The next section is John Campbell’s column on what’s coming next. The following issue includes a Poul Anderson story about the effects of a fairly close supernova’s radiation effects on Earth. Also here are the tallied ratings for the June, 1968 issue in which Poul Anderson’s Satan’s World took first place.

Back to this issue, we move on to Peter Abresch’s Hi Diddle Diddle. Abresch is mostly a mystery writer, with only a couple of SF short stories to his credit. After this, I’m definitely looking up his mysteries.

The story begins when Paul Lama, an Air Force reservist, tasked  with tracking down UFO reports is thrust into a press conference with hostile press trying to trick him into admitting there are aliens. So he does. He says the aliens exist but they’re actually animals that evolved to live in space. Spacecows.

Lama expects the press to double-check, in which case they find out it’s baloney. The press, of course, does not, and everyone who hears about this gets sent into a tizzy, including Senators and the like wondering why they’re hearing classified info on TV. Spacecows everywhere. I can only imagine what that would be like in today’s media.

And it’s hilarious. The President hears about it from his dog-walker (p. 107). One senator feels, “…like he had just found out the Statue of Liberty was an unwed mother” (p. 107). Russian spies find out from their doorman. “When Isvestia says we know everything, it means we know nothing, and when the Air Force says they know nothing, it means they know something” (p. 124).

Later on, there’s this hilarious sequence where Lama gets tracked down first by the reporter who’s staking his career on the actual existence of spacecows, then Russian spies come in and say, “You Lama?” to which he replies. “Me Lama, you Jane?” This gets repeated when the FBI barge in. Then we get an Air Force captain that later comes on stage and says, “You Lama?” “Me Lama, you Jane?” “Yeah, Melvin Jayne, how’d you know?”

In the chaos, Lama’s secretary Jimmi manages to help him escape, but it turns out that Lama was just about right and Jimmi is one of the spacecows. His guess has forced her species to leave one of the best pastures in the galaxy and ruined her student grant project.

Great story.

The next story is Stanley Schmidt’s first story ever, called A Flash of Darkness. This story is about a Mars Rover who sees in darkness by, essentially, lidar. However, he discovers another light source that is blinding him with too much light. The robot discovers the problem and navigates to find solar cells.

This story seems incomplete. It’s the kind of thing James P. Hogan had a blast with in the Giants series, but Schmidt doesn’t go far enough. The Rover discovers something that requires intelligence to craft on Mars. Who made it? We don’t know. I wanna know.

Parasike by Michael Chandler is next. I had not heard of Chandler before and can’t find him on the internet. I don’t think he’s the Old West gunfighter reenactor writing westerns, at least.

Anyway, this story is about a new investigator for a federal Fraud agency. He’s tasked with finding fortunetellers and the like who are trying to bilk customers. What he’s actually looking for are people who have a paranormal skill. These often use such jobs as fortuneteller or magician to hide their abilities. The twist is that our hero can tell when people are telling the truth, so not only does he discover one parasike, he discovers he is one too.

The next section is the review section by P. Schuyler Miller. He starts with a discussion of a number of fun series out there including Doc Savage and Conan. He then reviews a number of books. The review I found most interesting was his review of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. He sums it up by saying it might take a couple of reads to really understand what Dick was saying, but that we should “Try it” (p. 171). I agree.

Then we’re to the Brass Tacks section, which are the letters to the editors. This set of letters has a theme. Apparently Campbell asked in the April, 1968 what “widdershins” meant and what word is the reverse. Campbell got a flood of responses, all interesting to an etymology geek like me.

Overall, this was a great issue. It’s only drawback was its lack of striking advertisements. Inside the back cover is one that says we should “Discover America, it’s 3000 smiles wide.” I kind of like that.

However, that’s clearly a minor thing when you look at the great stories here.

Next week, we’ll look at the Galaxy of August, 1962. It inlcudes Frederik Pohl, Jack Vance, and Willy Ley. It’s full table of contents is here: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?58677. See you then.


If you have any comments, feel free to comment here or send an email to me at: rob@robhowell.org.

If you want to see previous reviews, the Mag Review category is here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=432.

Interview: Bethany Loughlin-Frost

Greetings all

So, I announce a new schedule where I’m aiming to put the interviews up on Monday, so of course I immediately don’t get this one out until Wednesday. Sheesh. Some weeks.

Anyway, this week I’m interviewing Bethany Loughlin-Frost, who I’ve enjoyed chatting with on panels at a couple of conventions now.

Interview – Bethany Loughlin-Frost

What is your quest?

I’m hoping to create a really great series based on the wiccan culture. There is so much negativity around witchcraft, and I’m hoping to change that with my novels. While they’re paranormal romances, I wont people to see that witchcraft isn’t scary or some kind of devil worship. One of my favorite authors is Larissa Ione. She creates a world where demons are not really evil, and I think that it’s really inspirational. As for other kinds of creators, I love art! Mostafa Moussa is a great artist that does really fun takes on cartoons and other kinds of characters. I love his steampunk princess! There are just so many artists I really enjoy… it’s hard to narrow it down.

Bethany Loughlin-Frost
Bethany Loughlin-Frost

What is your favorite color?

I love to put a lot of purple in my stuff. Purple is my favorite color. It’s a really calming color for me, so I keep my office purple, or if I’m somewhere I have something purple with me. Water is also very calming for me, so I like a lot of blue. If I’m having a rough day, I usually go outside and look at the sky and take in the colors. I also color code things. When I do write I color code based on importance. I have my own kind of color code, but color coding in general really helps me prioritize.

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

I get writers block a lot, and it frustrates me mostly because it comes in the middle of writing. I’ll know how a story is going to start and end, but the middle is always a struggle. I’ve also learned not to rely on others for a lot of help. If I need help with something small, I usually don’t have a problem with getting help, but if I need long term help (like a PA to help with websites, or someone to help with publicity) people seem to run scarce and not be willing to led a hand. Or they will start helping me, then disappear, so I tend to get really dejected and not get things finished.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I’m really good at character development. Mostly because I want to know all I can about a character in order to personify them in my writing. They have birthdays, favorite foods, favorite colors, etc. I’m also really proud of finishing my first novel, The Witch’s Savior, because it took me almost 2 years to write, and I didn’t have much help doing it as I lived in Germany at the start of writing it. I worked really hard, and edited it myself. I think the story line is great, and it is what inspired me to make a series instead of just the one novel.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Oscar
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Creamy
  • Favorite Sports Team? Syracuse Orangemen
  • Cake or Pie? Cake
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Bacon Horseradish by Hellavagood
  • Wet or Dry? Dry
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Magic Goat (it’s my friends Ska band from when I was in college. They disbanded about 10 years ago, but they were really great!)
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Whiskey
  • Favorite Superhero? Thor
  • Steak Temperature? Medium
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? I Love Lucy (is that 70’s?)
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall
  • Favorite Pet? Dogs
  • Best Game Ever? Never Have I Ever
  • Coffee or Tea? Tea
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Fantasy

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

What prompted you to start writing? What have some of your struggles been with writing, and how did you over come them?

My Answer: I got into writing in part to save myself. I was going through a hard time. Too educated to get most jobs, not educated enough to get others. Just went through a divorce. Really down place where I did very little. It’s a good thing to have days every now and then where you don’t actually do anything. It’s a very soul-stealing thing if you do that for weeks on end.

So I needed to do something. Writing was a way out. At the end of the day, I’d at least have a number of words on the page. As I got more and more professional about things, it began to be work, which though I’m generally a lazy person I like to have work to do.

I don’t know what thing in this job I haven’t struggled with, to be honest. Right now, what I’m struggling with is a tendency to sabotage myself. I’m making progress as a writer and I’m in the middle of a couple of projects that I think will push me to the next level, but I have to fight through my imposter syndrome to convince myself I’m worthy of making that step.

How do I solve that? Baby steps, really. I do a little on a project and then a little more. Then, all of the sudden things start rolling and I’m stop struggling to start the project and begin struggling to stay on top of the wave. A little bit here, a little bit there, and then at some point you’ve got something that’s precious to you and that you want to finish.

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?

  • Authors in the Steel City – Pittsburgh, PA – September 6-7, 2018
  • Midwestern Book Lovers Unite – Wisconsin Dells, WI – November 3-4, 2018

Details about you and your work?

I wrote the Witch’s Savior (5 Witches Series Book 1) and I just released a military romance, Love and Camo.

I also have two novellas that can only be purchased in paperback if ordered through me, personally. I also create jewelry swag for all my novels. Those can also be purchased through me. The order link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc8pr3GosMPzKRHA0WMbUDZ_3rS3LuK6Fqt_5-PMduR96ZDSw/viewform?usp=pp_url

I love meeting people and getting their input on my stories. If there is something you don’t like, I want to know. If you loved it, I want to know. I write my stories for myself, because I love them, but if something isn’t working for my audience, I need to know so I can tweak it. I’m also looking for more signing opportunities, so if there is a signing near me (Kansas City), and the price isn’t crazy, let me know!

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

You should have ask what I wish was different about the industry. I wish that authors really wanted honesty. I recently wrote a review for a fellow author about their book. I didn’t like the book because of the content, but I did not let that affect my review. I also did not like the book because of how it was written and some of the issues with plot, storyline, grammar and events. I included all this in my review and was very polite, but very honest. It has been up for less than a day and I’ve already had people attacking me because I didn’t give it 5 stars.

I also wish that people (readers) would review more. I know that there have been quite a few people that have read my novels, but many have not reviewed. I don’t know if they don’t want to write a bad review or what, but I would rather have 30 (1 star) reviews, then no reviews at all. I can’t make my writing better if I don’t know what to fix.

You should have also asked what is the hardest part about meeting people. I love meeting people, but I have no idea how to “sell” myself so that people will want to read my books. I can make friends no problem, but I have no idea how to talk them into buying, reading and reviewing my stuff. I guess I’ll never be a good salesperson…


Thanks to Bethany Loughlin-Frost for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know 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: More Cowbell

Week 36 of 2018

I’m at Brewbaker’s watching the Mississippi State game. Sure, the people in Kansas are calling it the Kansas State game, but my parents both went to MSU and both of my dad’s parents taught there.

So. More Cowbell!!!

Actually, tomorrow is one of my national holidays, the real opening day of the NFL season. A buddy of mine who is a Carolina fan and I will probably find a place to give each other hell while the Cowboys and Panthers play. I’m so ready for this year.

One quick programming note before I get into the work I’ve done this week. I’ve decided that I will move my update back to Friday and I’ll start doing my interviews on Monday. Right now, I’ve got my three regular blog  entries back-to-back-to-back. Yes, I’m still late this week, but I think it will work better spreading that out.

Anyway, it was a week of getting small things done for me, mostly around the house. I’m in that stage where I’m fighting to corral a bunch of ideas in The Feeding of Sorrows, which often means I procrasticlean. Since we’re still not completely unpacked, I have plenty to do. I made progress on all of the major remaining unpacking areas.

I also did a bunch of writing, but it’s all in the way of a scene here and random tossing words at the page. In books where I have a number of different threads, like Brief Is My Flame, I’m discovering that I tend to write each thread separately and then fit it all together. I’m only up to about 15,000 or so, but momentum is building.

I also started another short story that another anthology has requested. I’d been struggling with the idea for a while but an idea popped into my head last night and I did a bunch of research this morning. I only wrote about 500 words so far, but the story is basically written in my head. I love it when that happens.

Current Playlist Song

The NFL films song is playing on an ad. I’m so ready for this season. Did I mention that?

Quote of the Week

Speaking of football, on this day 130 years ago, twelve teams played their first matches in the Football League. These teams included Accrington, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Derby County, Everton, Notts County, Preston North End, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The idea was the brainchild of William McGregor and today’s quote is from his letter to the managers of those teams.

“I beg to tender the following suggestion as a means of getting over the difficulty: that ten or twelve of the most prominent clubs in England combine to arrange home-and-away fixtures each season, the said fixtures to be arranged at a friendly conference about the same time as the International Conference.”
– William McGregor

One side note, the Football League was by no means the first professional league in England. The earliest we know of was a cricket league in the early 1600s. But that’s something for a different day.

News and Works in Progress

  • RTM (496)
  • The Feeding of Sorrows (approx. 15,000)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AFS (2,556)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight was on Cameron S. Currie, a writer I met at Ad Astra a couple of years ago. You can find the interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1370 and his web site is at http://cameronscurrie.ca/.

Today’s Weight: 383.2

Updated Word Count: 185,518

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 394 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

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