Rob’s Update: The Little Gray Cells

Week 15 of 2020

Greetings all

Wow, what a major week of procrasti-projecting. I built a new bookcase for my SF/F magazines and spent part of the week not only shifting them around, but also organizing them. I now know just what treasure I have with those. It was so much fun.

Also, that led to organizing everything. So many small projects that I had just never gotten around to.

  • I now have a video camera on my computer. Well, I’ve had it for a while, but not actually plugged it in. I’ll be doing some FB Live stuff or YouTube things when I figure some things out.
  • I got a new color laser all-in-one. I’ve needed that functionality for a while. I rearranged the office and my printing setup is much more organized.
  • I organized my inventory. I now have a standard loadout for small events. I’ve needed this for a while as well.
  • I also made huge progress on my next short story. I may even finish the first draft tomorrow, giving me all week to polish it.
  • I had some great news, and a neat vote of confidence given to me.
  • Oh, and I made major progress on something I’ve been needing to do for a long time. I’ll expand on that next week.

Now I’m sitting with my sweetie enjoying a relaxing night. We’re watching Hercule Poirot and puttering around. She’s knitting a sock and I’ll be playing a game after I send this out.

Have a great week, everyone.

What I’m Listening To

Hercule Poirot, the Triangle at Rhodes episode. I love David Suchet and his +4 Mustache of Smiling.

Quote of the Week

“‘I belong to the world, Madame,’ said Poirot dramatically.”
– Agatha Christie, The Murder on the Orient Express

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (a bunch)
  • CB (8,418)
  • HM (6,374)
  • NWQF (4,125)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Spent the week puttering around instead of being on the blog.

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is still on When Valor Must Hold, which you can find at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086236WMT. Still getting lots of great feedback. We did good.

Today’s Weight: 398.4

Updated Word Count: 49,788

Shijuren Wiki: In progress

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

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

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

Rob’s Update: Weird Albuquerques

Week 14 of 2020

Greetings all

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

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

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

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

I finally came up with an answer.

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

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

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

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

It’s been a busy week around here.

What I’m Listening To

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

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

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

Quote of the Week

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

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

News and Works in Progress

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

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

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

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

WVMH Orange Tag
WVMH Orange Tag

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

Today’s Weight: 398.4

Updated Word Count: 49,244

Shijuren Wiki: Making progress

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

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

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

Rob’s Update: When Valor Must Hold

Week 13 of 2020

Greetings all

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

WVMH Orange Tag
WVMH Orange Tag

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great week everyone!

What I’m Listening To

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

Quote of the Week

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

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

News and Works in Progress

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

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

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

Today’s Weight: 399.6

Updated Word Count: 48,342

Shijuren Wiki: In progress

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

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

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

Interview: Christopher Nuttall

When Valor Must Hold comes out in 2 days! I’m very excited. Today’s interview is with Christopher Nuttall. His story is “The Game’s Afoot” and it sort of a fantasy Guns of Navarone. I think you’ll all like it, and I’m honored that he participated.

Interview: Christopher Nuttall

What is your quest?

Christopher Nuttall
Christopher Nuttall

I try to write the sort of books I like to read – action and adventure, mainly; almost all science-fiction and fantasy.

What is your favorite color?

Too many things to count, really.  I like decaying empires and how they can -sometimes – flourish into something new.  I like exploring the use and abuse of magic, and how politics can interact with science to change the world.

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

I’d like to do a really big story – something akin to the Night’s Dawn or Game of Thrones books – but I find them a little annoying.  In my view, each novel should be at least partly a novel of its own – that’s what I’ve tried to do with the Schooled in Magic books – but that’s difficult to maintain. I have these ideas that are basically AMERICAN CIVIL WAR WITH MAGIC or GREAT WAR IN SPACE that would be huge, but force me to write in a format I don’t like or narrow the story too far.  No room for character development if the stories are small, you see <grin>.  The only person who did that in a single book was Tom Clancy – Red Storm Rising – and only a handful of his characters were truly 3D.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

The series I like the most, I think, is Schooled in Magic.  It draws on so many of my hobbies – history, alternate history, etc – and lets me have fun.  Ark Royal was an astonishing success, in so many ways – I’m proud I got so much out of it.

How do I write?  I come up with the plot, I sort it out and then I start writing.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? [Insert politician’s name here.]
  • Favorite Weird Color? Black.  You can’t go wrong with black.
  • What Cartoon Character Are You?  I like to think Bugs Bunny.  More likely … Millhouse.
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received? A stack of books …
  • What Do You Secretly Plot?  I have ideas for stories that will probably never be written.
  • Favorite Sports Team? None.
  • Cake or Pie? Cake.
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Brown Sauce.
  • Favorite Cereal? Corn Pops.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? The McCalmans- http://the-mccalmans.com/
  • Whisky or Whiskey? I don’t drink.
  • Favorite Superhero? Green Lantern (Kyle Reyner)
  • Steak Temperature? Medium-well.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Battlestar Galactica
  • Best Thing From the 80s? Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Spring.
  • Best Game Ever? Chess.
  • Coffee or Tea? Tea.  I go 3000 words to the pint.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Both.
  • Brought to you by the letter ___?  Q.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

And where can we find you?

Right now, I’m not due to attend any conventions.  My health is a constant issue right now – and I have kids!


Thanks to Christopher 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.

Also, thanks to you 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.

Finally, 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 Ramblings: Discombobulation

Greetings all

Like many of us, this is a discombobulating time. Events canceled like Gulf Wars, FantaSci, and March Madness. Concerns over family friends. And people will be talking of the Toilet Paper Rush of Ought-20 like they did the 1849 Gold Rush.

There are silver linings, though. One, I get to use discombobulation again and again. It’s one of my favorite words.

Two, I’ve seen people in various communities band together to help their friends and neighbors. It’s not unusual for these people to do that sort of thing, but it’s more obvious right now and that’s comforting.

But it’s still a discombobulating time.

As a writer and someone who works from home, I have some nice advantages. Obviously, if I have food, water, and electricity, I can do my job normally. Without electricity, I have to hand write things, which I can do, though my hand problems make that challenging. Still, I can get through a reasonable time and still do my job. That’s comforting too.

But it’s not without dangers. I am an only child and a tendency to get too withdrawn.

Worse, the cancellations and the discombobulation exacerbate my tendencies to hermit and dwell on things far too much. I ponder where things go and game scenarios out in my head. It’s a great trait as a writer, of course, but can often send me down the road to thinking too many bad thoughts. That’s what cost me September, along with fatigue.

Today I’m writing from Brewbakers. I suspect, I’ll be here most days during this discombobulation as long they can stay open. I need to get out and see the world and not simply through the lens of social media.

My suggestion to you all is to do the things you’ve been putting off because you didn’t have time. I’m going to throw myself at None Call Me Mother and work on some projects around the house.

I also suggest everyone look for cool things to do for other people. Discombobulations bring stress. The word is fun to say, but the experiences are often not. The more nice things we do, even small ones, the better we’ll all be when we get back to our normal rat race.

The best thing about doing nice things for people in a discombulated time? It has a tendencies to combobulate all involved.

Rob’s Update: A Scientific Pursuit

Week 11 of 2020

Greetings all

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend everyone!

What I’m Listening To

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

Quote of the Week

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

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

News and Works in Progress

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

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

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

Today’s Weight: 398.4

Updated Word Count: 46,597

Shijuren Wiki: Rebuilding

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

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

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

Interview: Bill Webb

For the first quarter of 2020, my Wednesday interviews will be with authors who are part of When Valor Must Hold, the upcoming anthology of fantasy stories published by Chris Kennedy Publishing.

This week’s interview is with Bill Webb, whose story “Island of Bones” is good old-fashioned pulp fantasy. Heroes, ancient evils, horrifying monsters. All the good stuff.

Interview: Bill Webb

Why are you here?

  • What are your influences? I’m heavily influenced by history, even in my fiction. At the end of the day stories are about characters, and most of my characters are humans. Since human nature is unchanging, and it is, the fun part becomes using those personality types in a new setting.For example, at its heart my series The Last Brigade is about the power of the individual to affect great events. This theme carries through in other stories like The Sting of Fate and The Moles of Vienna.
  • Who are some favorite other creators? That’s a very long list. Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, Roger Zelazny, Robert A. Heinlein, Karl Edward Wagner, all writers in the Four Horsemen Universe, John Babb, Fritz Leiber, Michael Connelly, Randy Wayne White…the list is nearly endless.
  • What made you a creator in the first place? It was probably the desire to emulate what I liked. I still have a ‘comic book’ that I started one day during High School Spanish class. I had colored pencils and everything, and drew it on ruled paper. My earliest known fiction story grew as a direct result of reading Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser’ tales.But the actual compulsion to create came from somewhere out in the ether. I’m probably the worst person to guess what that means, because I have no idea why I first felt the need to share stories. Maybe I’m an insecure showoff who needs the validation of others to feel good about myself, or maybe I just like the idea of creating something new. If either one of those is true, I’m not the one to tell you which it is, because I don’t know.
  • Why did you choose to create what you create? I’ve always thought the things I create chose me, but I guess there are lots of my creations jumping around and waving for my attention like children. And by writing a particular story, I’m choosing which one to pay attention to…okay then.It’s all very random. As a diehard pantser I always only start with a vague idea, and it’s always whatever seems appropriate at the moment. Oddly enough I do plan out which books I’m going to write when, so in that regard planning is important to me. But the actual creative process is about as haphazard as it gets.My rewrites almost always add substantial words to my first draft, so the choice of what to include and what not to lasts far beyond the point it does for most writers. In my experience, most writers pare down their first draft instead of expanding it.
  • What would you like to create someday? An alternate WW2 history series is one thing I want to create, which is actually coming later this year. I also would love to create an alternate Civil War series, Punic War series…and a space novel that I would really like to fit into the Four Horsemen Universe, but so far haven’t been able to make that work.

Describe your great Lab of Creation?

  • Where do you work? Home? Coffee Shop? Home. I can work elsewhere, but I’m usually not as good at producing things. My office is a disaster, there’s paper everywhere, books, the usual detritus of a writer, and my desk has coffee stains everywhere. One limiting factor for me is that laptop keywords are too small for my hands, so I keep hitting the wrong keys.
  • Do you listen to music? Yes, 99% of the time it’s hard rock, and 95% of that time it’s my favorite band, Status Quo, or bands that grew out of Status Quo’s example, such as Piledriver or Predatür.
  • What other things exist in your productive environment? A TV. When not listening to music, the TV is on. I get some of my best dialogue from Jerry Springer. (Truth)
  • What things have you tried that haven’t worked? Outlining. If it works for other writers, God bless ‘em, but it sure doesn’t work for me.

What are your superpowers?

  • What kinds of things do you like in your creations? Everything I write has some element of the power of the individual to affect events far beyond the scope of what one person can generally be thought to influence. I also love to play around with the role that Fate plays in great historical events. The Sting of Fate, for example, posits the difference that one wasp could have played on the history of the world, had it used its stinger at a critical moment.
  • What are specific techniques you do well? Some would argue, there are none. But I think I do a good job of putting my readers into the moment. I am often told by readers they can picture what I’m describing perfectly, despite the fact that I live by Roger Zelazny’s dictum of never using more than two descriptors. I’ve also become pretty adept at tell a scene, battles in particular, from various POVs.
  • What are some favorite successes you’ve achieved, especially things you had to struggle to overcome? The way I was taught to write was my biggest obstacle, the one that took decades to purge. Being more or less a Creative Writing major in college, I learned how to write literary fiction. My teachers wanted me to emulate Faulkner, or James Joyce, and the word ‘genre’ might earn you an ‘F.’ I did learn to write beautiful sentences, but they went nowhere because the prose was the point, not the story. Out of sheer frustration I quit writing fiction in 1996 and didn’t try it again until 2014. By then I had gotten out of the habit of ignoring story and was able to write prose that people actually enjoyed.

What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you?

  • What are some of the challenges you have faced that frustrated you? Trying to get an agent. The whole process is backward and ridiculous. Fortunately, I figured out that the whole concept of an agent is no longer important to me, or any writer that’s paying attention.
  • Do you have any creative failures which taught you something? What were those lessons? Boy do I. Whole filing cabinets full of them. I have one novel in which I combined hard SF with sword and sorcery. The concept isn’t impossible to pull off, some have done so, but it’s hard. I took this novel to a small press, this was in the 1980s, and they agreed to publish it, even naming an amount for an advance. But editor wanted me to expand a 70k word book to 120k. Keep in mind, this was before computers, so everything was written on a typewriter.I did it. It took two years, but I did it. However, I had not insisted on a contract, and when I finished the editor told me they weren’t publishing fiction anymore. He couldn’t pick up an phone and call me, even though we lived in the same city, he let me work for two years first.Needless to say, the bloated book read like a bloated book. I have since reused parts of it, but there are literally thousands of edited pages of that book still in my possession.
  • How do you overcome normal slow points like writer’s block?I have two methods. First, I don’t believe in writer’s block, I think that’s an excuse. It is for me, anyway. So if I get stuck at point, I either write another sentence no matter how bad it might be, and keep writing until the story starts flowing again, or I jump to a different scene and write that.If neither one of those works, I go to something different. It’s not unusual for me to work on 3 or 4 different projects in the same day.
  • Which mistake would you try to keep other creators from making? Wasting time trying to get an agent so you can publish traditionally. The whole thing has become a farce. There are agents who actually charge for you to pitch to them at a conference. That’s indefensible.
  • If you could go back and tell yourself anything about writing, what would it be? Listen to your own instincts. Attend writing classes, conferences, conventions and seminars, but write the way you like to read.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Miss Piggy.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Status Quo.
  • Favorite Superhero? Ben Grimm.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? The first season of MASH. Marcia Strassman was hot.
  • Favorite Weird Color? Teal.
  • Favorite Sports Team? Memphis Tigers.
  • Best Game Ever? Chess.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Summer.
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received? It’s X-rated.
  • What Cartoon Character Are You? Johnny Quest.
  • Your Wrestler Name? Wham-wham William.
  • Your Signature Wrestling Move? Pulling a Colt 1911.
  • What Do You Secretly Plot? To buy Jamaica.
  • How Will You Conquer the World? In my dreams.
  • Best Thing From the 80s? My kids.
  • Favorite Historical Period? World War Two.
  • Most Interesting Person In History? Winston Churchill.
  • Steak Temperature? Medium well.
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  French onion.
  • Favorite Cereal? Raisin Bran.
  • What Do You Eat For Your Last Meal? Bacon cheeseburger with fries and chocolate shake.
  • Beverage(s) of Choice? Unleaded: Diet Pepsi. Leaded: mojito.
  • Do You Have Pets? Yes, seven dogs.
  • What Actor or Actress Should Portray You in Your Biopic? If we was younger, Donald Sutherland. I once got a free meal by pretending to be his brother.
  • What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round? What book have you re-read the most?

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

What’s the best answer you’ve gotten to one of these interview questions?

Rob’s Answer: Probably Quincy Allen’s “Don’t let the naysayers win.” This isn’t an easy job, especially since it tests one’s confidence daily and we all deal with imposter syndrome. That’s the serious answer, but I’ll admit there’s been some fantastic Lightning Round answers. Those are often my favorites in a given interview.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

  • www.thelastbrigade.com
  • https://www.facebook.com/keepyouupallnightbooks
  • Currently on sale for .99, the Darrell-Award winning Sharp Steel. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0785PKZDF/
    And also in audiobook, read by the great Simon Vance.
  • Standing In Righteious Rage, The Last Brigade Book 5, is scheduled for release in early May. High Mountain Hunters, a planned book in the 4HU, should be delivered by mid-May. Also, I have agreed to a World War Two alternate history trilogy with Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire Press, titled A World Afire. It’s a great year for me to be stoked!

And where can we find you?

  • I’m a Special Guest at Tupelocon, the first weekend in March
  • Midsouthcon March 20-22
  • Libertycon in June
  • I’m also doing a signing at Fort Knox in July.

Do you have a creator biography?

Born and raised by a family of nomadic badgers in West Tennessee, Bill Webb wrote his first stories in grade school, terrifying all who knew him, and that was before he found comic books and science fiction.  (He is still angry at having a copy of X-Men #53 ripped out of his hands during 11th grade Spanish class.)

The release in 2016 of his Last Brigade series changed his career path by actually giving him a career path. The Time Wars and Sharp Steel and High Adventure series’ soon followed.

By age 25 he’d read all of the classics…Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Robert Heinlein, Michael Moorcock and Roger Zelazny. Later influences include Larry Niven, Jerry Pournell and Larry Corriea. Indulging himself in a double concentration at the University of Memphis of Creative Writing and History, college felt more like a long party than school.

After multiple careers in various industries, he much prefers writing books and stories to any sort of actual work. His idea of punching a clock these days is a coffee maker that finishes brewing its magic five minutes before he gets up in the morning.

Snippet from Bill’s new fantasy story, titled Beyond the Dead River.

The crocodile wanted to submerge, but she pulled back on the reins and kept the tired reptile swimming. The thrusts of its powerful tail had slowed, as had its paddling feet, but her stance astride its back allowed direct use of the spurs on her bootheels to keep it moving forward. At last it reached the river’s far shore and hauled the entire enormity of its bulk onto the mud flat. Rolling out the tethering chain, she looped it around the bole of a giant tree and scanned both ways for potential predators.

The dense jungle didn’t intimidate her. Vines with thorns and thick, oval leaves hung from trees taller than a castle’s keep, while a nearby stream emptied into the muddy river. Despite her knowledge of the rain forest, the dense undergrowth and deepening twilight left her dreading the need to travel in darkness deeper than the perpetual shadows of the rain forest. Her nostrils flared as she sniffed a light breeze for the scent of any nearby predators, and one eye twitched at a musky smell she knew belonged to a python. She would have to be very careful.

She had the lean, muscular physique of a warrior. Her limbs didn’t have the soft curves of a city born woman, but instead had muscles that appeared roughly cut from stone. Yet no one could mistake her for being a man. She had chosen her raiment specifically for travel through in the jungle. She had tucked loose trousers of well-worked animal leather into calf-high boots of snake-skin, with a leather shirt stretched tight across her chest. Two longs knives hung from a simple belt around her waist. Thick, curly black hair fell past her shoulders, held in place by a rawhide thong. A stained, short-brimmed hat protected her head from the countless overhead threats that inhabited the country through which she had to pass to achieve her mission.


Thanks to Bill 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.

Also, thanks to you 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.

Finally, 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: Fire from Fire Quickened

Week 10 of 2020

Greetings all

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

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

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

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

Getting there.

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

What I’m Listening To

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

Quote of the Week

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

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

News and Works in Progress

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

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

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

Today’s Weight: 396.8

Updated Word Count: 42,769

Shijuren Wiki: Rebuilding

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

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

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

Interview: D.J. Butler

For the first quarter of 2020, my Wednesday interviews will be with authors who are part of When Valor Must Hold, the upcoming anthology of fantasy stories published by Chris Kennedy Publishing.

You might notice this is coming out on Thursday. I seem to have misplaced Tuesday. Anyone know where I put it?

Anyway, this week is one of the cover authors from When Valor Must Hold, D.J. Butler. Butler’s story “No Trade for Nice Guys” reminded me so much of Fritz Lieber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser I’m re-reading those stories. Which of course reminds me of the original TSR Deities and Demigods, which I also re-read.

Let’s just say you’ll want more of his two main characters, Indrajit and Fix. Fortunately, they star in a full-length novel coming out in July, In the Palace of Shadow and Joy.

Interview: D.J. Butler
D.J. Butler
D.J. Butler

Why are you here?

What made you a creator in the first place? My parents gave me a copy of the silver jubilee 25th anniversary edition of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings when I was seven or eight. I stayed in bed for a week reading them back to back to back, and I have been attempting to recapture that experience ever since. Tolkien has influenced what I write on every level, from the genres I choose to write in to the themes and subject matter to my obsession with including music as music in my novels.

What are other major influences on you? Other hugely important novelists to me are Mervyn Peake, Patrick O’Brien, and Dorothy Dunnett. My favorite current novelists in speculative fiction would have to be Tim Powers (I love his playful use of history) and Neal Stephenson (I love the fact that he tackles big ideas within rollicking yarns). There are also songwriters who have had an enormous impact on what I write and how I write it; chief among those would have to be Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, and Nick Cave.

Are there lesser-known creators you favor? I love to buy art, including writing, by people I know. Some of the lesser-known writers who are my favorites include: L.J. Hachmeister, who writes young adult space opera adventure, including the Triorion Universe books; David J. West (also writing as James Alderdice), who writes terrific pulp fiction influenced by sources ranging from spaghetti westerns to H.P. Lovecraft to Conan to The Book of Mormon (!!!); Thad Diaz, whose Lunatic City launches a terrific noir cop series set on the moon; and Michaelbrent Collings, who writes principally horror, but has also written a delightful middle grade series called the Billy Saga and a reimagined mashup of Twilight and Peter Pan.

Describe your great Lab of Creation?

The Cunning Man cover
The Cunning Man cover

Where do you work? Home? Coffee Shop? Yes. Also: airports, airplanes, restaurants, trains, hotels, convention center floors, friends’ parlors, and the shotgun seats of moving cars. I still work for a living (as a corporate trainer and consultant), so I have to write when I can. For a time, I was a full-time writer, and I was very good at systematically writing twelve pages every day, six days a week, but that is unfortunately not my situation now. Now, I will go without writing for a month, and then spend a month trying to write 20 pages a day, however and whenever and wherever I can.

What helps you be productive? Deadlines and contracts. Close association with other writers, who are themselves being productive, inspires me. Reader communication is great—it’s very hard to write sequels if you have no idea whether anyone is reading book one. 

What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you?

In the Palace of Shadow and Joy cover
In the Palace of Shadow and Joy cover

What are some of the challenges you have faced that frustrated you? I’m not as productive as I’d like to be. I have long periods in which I do things in my life that are important and good, but are not writing. I have not been as successful as I want to be at writing every day, no mater what.

Which mistake would you try to keep other creators from making? Never forget that, as a writer, you are an entrepreneur. You are shareholder, CEO, business development VP, head of manufacturing, salesman, and customer service, all at once. You are not an employee of your publisher or of your agent. Be actively engaged in growing your business at all time.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Dr. Teeth
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Bonnie Prince Billy
  • Favorite Superhero? Luke Cage
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Kolchak: The Night Stalker
  • Favorite Weird Color? Magenta
  • Best Game Ever? RuneQuest
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall
  • Your Wrestler Name? El Bigote
  • Steak Temperature? Hot. Medium rare.
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  French onion
  • Favorite Cereal? Bacon
  • What Do You Eat For Your Last Meal? Bacon
  • Beverage(s) of Choice? Diet Mountain Dew
  • Do You Have Pets? No

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

  1. LibertyCon in Tennessee
  2. Dragon Con in Georgia

Do you have a creator biography?

D.J. (Dave) Butler has been a lawyer, a consultant, an editor, and a corporate trainer. His novels include Witchy Eye, Witchy Winter, and Witchy Kingdom from Baen Books, as well as The Cunning Man, co-written with Aaron Michael Ritchey, and the forthcoming pseudofantasy thriller, In the Palace of Shadow and Joy. He also writes for children: the steampunk fantasy adventure tales The Kidnap Plot, The Giant’s Seat, and The Library Machine are published by Knopf. Other novels include City of the Saints from WordFire Press.

Dave also organizes writing retreats and anarcho-libertarian writers’ events, and travels the country to sell books. He plays guitar and banjo whenever he can, and likes to hang out in Utah with his children.


Thanks to D.J. 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.

Also, thanks to you 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.

Finally, 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: Over the Top

Week 8 of 2020

Greetings all

It’s been a strange week where I know I got lots done but I don’t really have a great way to show it. My 4HU short story is about 1000 words larger, but that’s the only word count I can point to. If that were it, I’d be frustrated about this week.

Fortunately, it’s not it. I spent the week clearing up a variety of details on this and that, including finalizing my taxes.

One of the best things I can report is the advanced copies of When Valor Must Hold went out to readers this week. Each one of these steps makes it that much more real. That much less vaporware. The authors are excited, the publisher is excited, the readers are excited, so guess what? I’m excited too.

While I only show 1000 more words in the 4HU story, I edited out a couple of thousand and cleaned up what I got. I’m now at the point where I see the whole pattern and it’ll be done on time and it’ll be good.

This weekend, I’m going to an SCA event and then the first home game of the St. Louis Battlehawks. More excitement. Going to be a great weekend.

What I’m Listening To

Various big band jazz songs at Shameless Grounds, a coffee shop owned by a couple of friends in St. Louis.

Quote of the Week

Today is the 104th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Verdun. More people think of Gandalf when they think of this phrase today, but here’s General Petain at Verdun.

I might have mentioned this before, but my grandfather enlisted at the age of 14 to fight in WW1. He never got to the trenches because they knew he was too young, so they had him cut trees and that sort of thing, but he saw more than a 14-year-old should. I still have my copy of Arthur Guy Empey’s Over the Top which he gave me.

“Ils ne passeront pas!” – ‘They shall not pass!’”
– Henri-Philippe Petain, during the Battle of Verdun, 1916

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (108,716)
  • CB (8,418)
  • FSS (6,808)
  • RQS (1,312)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Jon Osborne, whose is one of the cover authors in When Valor Must Hold.

Today’s Weight: On the road, didn’t check today

Updated Word Count: On the road, didn’t check today

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

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

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

Opinions and fiction of person misplaced in time.

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