Category Archives: Shijuren

Posts related to the world of Shijuren.

I’m baaack

Sorry for the long delay since posting. I should have a chance to be more consistent until the next deadlines happen.

I can report that I have sent The Eyes of a Doll to my editor and alpha readers. I’m late because of Lilies and Pennsic this year, but I think I’ll be able to recover and get it published in early December. My goal is to have paper copies by Kris Kinder, Calontir’s shopping event the second Saturday of December. For that to happen, I need to have the book finished by 30 November at the latest, so expect to see the e-book on Amazon somewhere around then.

This journey is a process and, not surprisingly, has been filled with a few potholes. I’m learning though, and am encouraged by the future.

I have a good start to the 3rd book in the Shijuren world, and will have that draft finished by about the same time as I publish The Eyes of a Doll.

The 3rd book is about Ludmilla, though I’m thinking I’m changing her name because Ludmilja seemed the perfect name for a character in The Eyes of a Doll. This book is not set in Achrida, but starts in Periaslavl and will explore the Kreisen. It’s goal for release date will be 1 April.

I’m already planning the 4th book in Shijuren. This one will focus on a Reader learning more than he wanted to learn. I’ve been waffling on where I want to set it, so I haven’t named him yet.

That’s enough for now, expect some football posts this week. Cowboys-Giants on the 13th cannot come soon enough.

A Full LibertyCon AAR

Last year, I went to my first LibertyCon because of the list of attendees from Baen Books. This year, I attended because of the fun I had last year. I’m going next year and from now one because of the fun this year.

It’s a decently long drive for me, over 11 hours. I did most of that drive on Wednesday, reaching  Sam and Talina’s house in Marietta 8ish. I suspect I’ll make this the standard plan in the future if they don’t mind. This allowed me to hang out some while recovering from the drive.

Thursday, I made the drive back up to Chattanooga heading initially for the Kinko’s. I had new business cards made up to replace the ones I left at home. I left them in a place where I could not possibly miss them when I walked out of the door. Sigh. I’m good at that.

Anyway, I checked into the hotel on Thursday and was almost immediately invited to the Thursday night party by Gary. This was laid back, but there was some good conversation and I met a number of interesting people. Laid back was all I really wanted, and I went to bed at midnight, very pleased with the start of the Con.

Friday was productive. I spent the morning hanging around outside the art and dealer’s room, meeting some new people and reconnecting with some I’d met before. I sat with Jason Cordova and let him recruit me onto the HMS Wolverine, slated for imminent recommissioning. He introduced me to Jasmine deGroot, another crewmember, who has a twisted sense of humor like his and mine.  I suspect I’m going to really enjoy being a part of Commodore Cordova’s squadron.

Jody Lynn Nye led a world-building workshop that might have been scheduled for two hours, and for next year should be scheduled for two hours. She listed some interesting points about the influences of geography and culture in world-building that made me think.

Then we started making up a world on the fly. Some of the ideas were frankly a bit silly, but for a workshop, making some of the silliest ideas work is probably a good thing. Unfortunately, we had to stop just when we got going well.

My next big event was the Keeping Track of Your Money panel of indie authors. My eyes were opened, but I don’t think I can truly implement all of their advice. Doug Dandridge can apparently publish a book for less than $100. I just don’t think I can publish effectively without editing help, major editing help. Maybe someday, but right now I am too much of an academic and I write too much in Rob-ese.

However, I may have to reconsider my cover art. I really like what Patrick McEvoy did for A Lake Most Deep, but he may just be too expensive. I will have to play around with numbers for The Eyes Of A Doll, my next book.

Then I sat in the Short Story or Novel panel. I’m definitely a novel writer, but I do see how I can expand my sales and my publicity with short stories. What’s embarrassing is that I wrote several this past year, including a couple of 1632-verse ones, that I just need to finish. September I think on finishing and submitting those.

I followed that up with the Indie Marketing Panel. I got a bunch of ideas that I need to follow up on. First and foremost is to be more active here and to expand my internet presence. I’ll probably add a Google Plus page and start tweeting. I am a private person and I tend not to like to put myself and my thoughts out there. However, it’s part of the job.

There were a number of interesting panels after that, but my brain was full and I needed food and recharge time before the recommissioning of the Wolverine. The SCA ceremony geek in me wants to increase the ceremony involved in these sorts of things, but it’s probably more accurate to have a small ceremony followed by socializing.

In any case, I received one of the highlights of the Con, a picture of all involved in the TRMN at the ceremony. Jason insisted that as I was enlisting I joined them. I’m really glad he did because I now have a picture with both me and David Weber in the same group. Naw, I’m not a complete fanboy. I’ll just be in the corner squeeing quietly.

I then spent much of the rest of the evening floating from conversation to conversation and eventually closed down the Con Suite. They really have an amazing Con Suite at LibertyCon. Next year, I may make some pies or something to contribute.

In any case, I went to bed at a time not terribly late, but definitely not early. I got to sleep somewhere around 2:30am, meaning that most of the panels in the morning were not as interesting as they might have been. I essentially got up on Saturday morning solely in time to eat at the Luncheon Banquet.

This was a hoot. Howard Tayler is hilarious, which of course you already knew from reading Schlock Mercenary. They had old science fiction and fantasy books at each table and I went directly to the table with Heinlein’s Space Cadet. While I will always make the same choice, given the other options, that table was in the absolute front and four of the chairs were empty as they were just too “in front” to be prime spots. Though I enjoyed chatting with the people at my table, I would have enjoyed having a full table more.

Nevertheless, I’m definitely adding the banquet to my yearly purchase list.

Then I went to the Baen Traveling Slideshow and Prize Patrol. While I essentially know the entirety of the Baen catalog by heart, I really enjoy seeing and hearing the authors and Toni Weisskopf adding stories and extra tidbits. They give away a goodly amount of swag too. Even though there’s very little that they give away that matches my personal preferences, I really appreciate the amount of stuff they give away. Now if I can only steal…, I mean, acquire legally some of the big posterboards of their book covers that they display at these slideshows. If they all magically disappear one day, I guarantee I didn’t do it… that anyone can prove.

I then did my turn around the dealer’s room and the art show. In general, I don’t buy much, but I had to buy the Grumpy Cat DMing TShirt.

Most of the rest of the afternoon and evening involved lounging and chatting. Quite pleasant.

Later on I went in and watched them demoing Munchkin: Steampunk. I’m totally getting this version, it’s all the whimsy of the Munchkin with twice the gears. I basically sat there and heckled, which all of the players accepted good-naturedly. A really fun relaxed time.

This was capped off with Steve Jackson joining us at the end. They were packing up, but he passed out a bunch of swag. I got my prize of the Con. One of the swag pieces was a blank Munchkin card that simply said “Go Up A Level.” I immediately said to Steve, this has to have a reason. So he signed it. I can’t wait to play that card and shout “Because Steve Jackson Said So, Bitches!”

I went to bed around 1ish, anticipating a long day on Sunday. I think next year, though, I am going to stay for Sunday night and close the Con down right. I’d like to get to know the staff and locals better, they seem like hoopy froods.

Sunday started with the Kaffeeklatsch. I lucked out and happened to sit at David Weber’s table. We chatted on a variety of things, and I was able to ask about the Starfire universe.

I’m not the biggest fan of the game Starfire out there, but I’ve got to be nationally ranked. It was wonderful to hear him chat about his plans and where that’s going now. I guess Chuck Gannon is running that universe now with Steve White. I should reach out to him and see if he’s interested in auditioning another author in that universe. That game is the reason I became a David Weber fan in the first place in something like 1984, and it would be a huge honor to write some stuff set from the perspective of the Tabbies.

Then I watched Family Feud between the Hoyts and the Williamsons. It was even sillier than the TV show, but a lot of fun. I will forever treasure the memory of Sarah Hoyt demanding “Who Did You Poll!?!”

I then sat in the tail end of Sam Flegal’s presentation. He was the artist guest of honor, and he specializes in intricate interpretations of Norse themes. I managed to score a signed copy of the LibertyCon artwork, and I doubt that’s the last thing of his I’ll get.

Celebrity Jeopardy, where the questions are made up and the points don’t matter! They had three of the Con celebrities play Jeopardy using answers relevant to Con and panelist interests. Unfortunately, the Jeopardy game they had was difficult to use, and points weren’t always credited correctly. By this I mean, points were credited correctly at least twice. Still, I’m going to watch it again this year.

Then came Closing Ceremonies. One thing they do really well at LibertyCon is encourage comments, and they subtitle this “Let’s Bitch at Brandy.” I had a couple of small suggestions to the really excellent Android app for LibertyCon. There were lots of other suggestions. Lots and lots. Some of them deserving of attention. Brandy kept smiling. They really do have a good staff.

Of course, nothing can be perfect. One of the things that was striking to me is the difference between SCA people and Con people as a whole. Obviously this is a major generalization of two related bell curves, but I was distressed by how much trash was left on tables in the Con Suite. I get forgetting things, but it was clear that many groups of people simply assumed a member of the Con Suite would pick up their trash.

Yes, they were right, members of Con Suite did pick up their trash, but in my mind they should not have had to.  I’ve never seen the food court at Lilies, Gulf, Pennsic, or Estrella have as much trash simply left for others to deal with. I felt both proud of my SCA side and ashamed of my Con side.

I didn’t feel comfortable mentioning my reaction then as I’m still a relative newcomer, though I probably should have. Maybe next year at the “Bitch at Brandy Session” I’ll challenge everyone to pick up after themselves. The Con Suite people worked their tails off to provide free food and drinks to 700 plus people. We should pick up after ourselves and not add to their already huge workload.

Despite this, LibertyCon is now on my permanent schedule. I’ll pre-register before I leave every year, because it’s capped at 700 attendees. They do this to keep the family atmosphere, and it really is a good atmosphere.

You leave the Pennsylvania station ’bout a quarter to four
Read a magazine and then you’re in Baltimore
Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer
(Then to have your ham and eggs in Carolina)

When you hear the whistle blowin’ eight to the bar
Then you know that Tennessee is not very far
Shovel all the coal in, gotta keep it rollin’
(Whoo whoo, Chattanooga, there you are)

See you next July, Chattanooga.

Busy Time

Greetings all

It’s been a very busy time here in Robland. I am the event steward for Lilies War, a big SCA event in Calontir. That is happening this week and I’m playing a little hooky to get some other things done.  Fortunately, my co-steward and event staff don’t really need me anymore.

The big news here, though, is the arrival of A Lake Most Deep in paperback form on Amazon at:
http://www.amazon.com/Lake-Most-Deep-World-Shijuren/dp/0996125914/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1434217490&sr=8-1&keywords=rob+howell

Enjoy. For me, I’m back to the war and being a big, bad boss.

Blogging History

As you might have noticed, I’m not a particularly consistent blogger. I’m working on that, but it is not in my nature to do things every day.

That doesn’t mean that I haven’t put a goodly number of interesting things in my various blogs over the years, however. I was ecstatic to find that I could import my entire collection of LiveJournal posts into this blog. You’ll see that the entry list now stretches back to 2004 when I first dabbled.

I’m finding great enjoyment in reviewing what seemed important to me at those times, and there’s a great deal of introspection, especially during the walk in Wales after my second wife and I split. I’m getting a view into my own history, some of which seems almost as new to me as it does to you.

So, that means I should probably add what’s important to me to remember about today. I really enjoy the new Sienna. I just drove Missouri 94 from Jefferson City to the St. Louis area this morning. It’s a beautiful day, and that’s a curvy, twisty, beautiful road that generally runs between the Missouri River and the Katy Trail railbed.

One of these days I want to walk the entire Katy Trail in Missouri, and write about my experiences and the neat things around it. It’s some 250 miles, meaning it’s probably 3 weeks of walking. However, it’s generally easier than the Offa’s Dyke trail as it’s graded and graveled and relatively level. Heavenly.

I just finished a number of small projects related to Lilies XXIX. I don’t know exactly how things will go, but I’m looking forward to it and I think people will have fun.

I may not have done much right in terms of Lilies, but I sure think I did really well picking people to work on it. They’ve done great, and there will be lots of fun to be had.

As for writing, I’ve been plowing through writing about Ludmilla. This book is much tougher to right since the character is so different from myself.  I’m learning lots, and I’m stretching myself, but it’s definitely challenging.

On that note, I suppose I better go write a scene or two.

What A Couple of Months

Wow, it’s been a crazy couple of months for me.

I’ve spent most of the time finishing A Lake Most Deep. I’m very pleased to announce that it’s available on Amazon.com at:
http://www.amazon.com/Lake-Most-Deep-World-Shijuren-ebook/dp/B00WYIU6OG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430968973&sr=8-1&keywords=rob+howell.

Let me tell you, being able to find my name on Amazon is pretty dang cool.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of publishing the first novel is learning the processes. I’m hoping to streamline the processes for all of the future novels. I don’t know how many books there will eventually be in the world of Shijuren, but there are a bunch of stories to tell.

Speaking of which, I’ve also been working on the next novel, which centers around Ludmilla, a love magician who once was the Velikomat of Periaslavl. As the leader of a country, she has a large-scale perspective, but now, after abdicating her throne, she is now seeing life from a completely different viewpoint.

I haven’t decided on its title, but I’m hoping to release it in October.

And if that’s going to happen, I have to get back to it.

Also, I promise it won’t be over a month until the next post.

 

Katayanicum III:2

To the most illustrious and invincible Highness, Prince Verethragnan, heir to the Throne of Unyielding Justice, I, Katayana of Amaranth, sends greetings.

You have asked me, my Prince, to describe for the benefit of your followers the Streams of Magic that exist in Kshiurana. Though I am unworthy of this task, I will attempt to comply with all the meager skill and knowledge at my disposal. I can only hope that You, in Your generosity, will forgive my missteps.

Nearly all know the children’s rhyme that describes the Five Streams. Nostalgia compels me to repeat it here, though of course its familiarity might be tedious.

To change nature’s guise
One needs loves or lives
Stone’s laws or sharp lines
Or lore of the wise

One interesting aspect of this poem that many others might not realize is that most languages have translated this poem into their language and it is taught to their children. Surely this is a sign of Your wisdom and generosity to allow all peoples, even those who have yet to worship you properly, to learn magic’s Five Streams.

In any case, with your permission, then, I shall explain the Five Streams individually, though this will surely be tedious for You to read. I humbly crave Your pardon.

The first stream in the poem is that of love. In truth, this stream, as you know, is the manipulation of all emotions. I am told those who manipulate emotions see emotions as tendrils emanating from humans and some animals. These magicians can then strengthen or modify these tendrils, and in some cases completely reverse, whatever emotions a person is feeling hence modifying their behavior.

The second stream is that of life. Those who can influence life can see a field of energy around all living things, allowing them the opportunity to modify the creature or plant. They can, for example, influence a plant to grow extremely quickly or heal a cut on a dog or person.

The third stream is that of the stone. Again, this name is somewhat misleading, as there always seems to be energy in all things, and those that can see the energy of matter can do many things with this energy. Some can even change light, though this is a rare gift.

The fourth stream talks about sharp lines. The lines referred to are those lines inherent in writing. Magicians of this type may also use symbols. They see power in the written word and in symbols, and can use them to influence people or do many other things. All religions use symbolic magic in one way or another.

And finally, the fifth stream is that of knowledge. Such magicians concern themselves with influencing the path of history. Their magic is subtle, yet in time as powerful as any. We, for as You know I have some skill with this type of magic, see potentialities in all things. We can then influence the path of events to increase the chances of a particular potentiality of resulting. Patience is our watchword.

I hope that this will clarify for those who follow You some of the most basic aspects of magic. In Your generosity, You have allowed me to put these words to parchment, though I know them to be unworthy of Your vision. Words cannot truly describe the glory of Your benevolence in allowing me to pass my meager understanding forward.

With great thanks, I remain Your dutiful servant,

Katayana of Amaranth

– Excerpt of the Katayanicum, Book III, Chapter 1.

2015

Well, here we are in a new year and here’s my first post.  One of my resolutions is to post more consistently. We’ll see, I’ve said that before.

So far, 2015 has started out well on several fronts, though writing has been tough. I’m anxious to publish my first book, A Lake Most Deep. Pretty much everything is ready to go except my editor has yet to return her marked up copy. I am a good writer, but there are many times that what I write makes perfect sense to me but isn’t necessarily as clear to others. I suppose this is true of every writer.

One nice thing is that I am relinquishing one of my SCA responsibilities this weekend. I have had a wonderful time serving as the court herald for Agamemnon and Gwen, but like every other reign I’ve served with, there’s a relief at the end. Now I don’t necessarily *have* to go to events and that means a few more empty weekends to focus on writing.

My goal in 2015 is 350,000 good words. That’s about 1,000 words per day after polishing them. It’s doable, and so far I’m on track, but it’s a major goal.

My hope is to have 3 novels per year published. My first novel is set in a my fantasy world and focuses on Edward Aethelredson. My plan  is to have one book about him each year and the second, tentatively titled The Eyes of a Doll, is well along in its draft. Edward, however, is merely one of several characters I have designed for this world. My plan is to also publish another novel set in this world each year as well as the Edward series.

Eventually, I have grand plans for the world, but for now I want to focus on the characters and the life as opposed to the great happenings.

My third book is a series of space operas / military SF. Yeah, I know so many people have done it better, but I’ve got a number of fun historical events to pull from that no one has ever done. I’m guessing that people are like me, we’ve read all of those out there repeatedly and want more.

This is the one that I have been focusing on most of this year. Most of my focus has been to get the basic physics background to create a believable and useful set of tactics and strategy. A fun learning experience and one that I suspect will never end.

Anyway, there’s enough for now. I’ll leave with the one last thing.

Go Cowboys!!!

Katayanicum I:2

To the most illustrious and invincible Highness, Prince Verethragnan, heir to the Throne of Unyielding Justice, I, Katayana of Amaranth, sends greetings.

You have asked me, my Prince, of the beginnings of all things. To my shame this is not something I can truly answer. My only excuse, my Lord, is that the answer was lost some time before the last of the Giants was slain. To prove that I, Your least of servants, is truthful in this claim permit me to digress for but a moment.

The name of our world is probably the greatest mystery in all the ancient study of etymology. Every culture we have met has named this world their language’s cognate of “Kshiurana.” From the farthest west there is Sciuren and from the farthest east Shikuran. Nor can we detect any distribution of this name from a singular origin that has spread out during the six centuries since the beginning of this age. Our earliest records, no matter what culture or language, all refer to this planet with this word. 

However, though we know the word, we are not entirely sure what it means. We may, however, use logical processes, that you are so skilled with, to determine a probable answer.

First, we must examine the implications of this etymological quandary, my Prince, that are surely obvious to You. Permit me, however, as Your tutor to lay these out clearly so that as philosophers we can examine them. We shall start by working from the assumption based upon the best evidence available to us that the idea of Kshiurana is a memory inherent in all cultures.

The implication is that this intercultural memory comes from a time that predates all of human history. History, as we have already discussed, is the recounting of actions of humans that have been recorded in whatever language and medium is available to the culture. It is true that Your line is the greatest of all royal lines in this, Kshiurana, and by extension the history of Your kingdom the most important in all the world. Nevertheless, it falls to us as philosophers to seek out and learn the histories of other cultures, even those as strange and barbaric as that of the Eleven Kingdoms on the islands of the Western Sea.

As I mentioned, each of these histories call this world their version of the same word, but what is also interesting to the philosophical mind are the origins of these earliest histories. As all men know, and You above all of them save Your father the greatest of all men, this age began with the final defeat of the Giants who had for so long enslaved our race. There, at the Battle of the First Kings, their evil was ended forever and many of the kingdoms of Kshiurana were founded.

The honor and glory displayed and earned on that field, as You know, led us to number all of our years from that date. Yet that battle was merely the culmination of a war that lasted decades and most cultures have histories written prior to what we now call the First Year. Our own histories, for example, stretch back some decades prior to that time as we carved out for ourselves the freedom to write words pertaining to ourselves as free creatures and not merely slaves. It is further proof of the greatness of Your line that our histories number amongst the earliest of all.

Yet histories of the Empire of Sabinia are attested to have been written but a scant few of years after our own. Even as we learn the limits of the Five Streams in this advanced and peaceful age, it would be difficult for one of us to travel that great distance in but two years. This is even more true of the histories written upon birch bark in the farthest north where frozen rivers are the only roads. Yet, as I have said, each of these texts agree upon the name Kshiurana.

Hence, we can only assume, as men seeking wisdom, that the name Kshiurana predates the end of the Giants.

Forgive me, Your Highness, for my tedious path to explain that which surely was obvious to You but for those lesser souls such as my own it is beneficial that we methodically proceed through the evidence.

It is this evidence that leads You to my obvious conundrum. How can I, a mere servant, succeed where no others have? For, as You know, we have no recorded history prior to these days for the Giants would not allow their servants this right. Letters they taught us so that we could copy their texts, but literacy they justly feared. All we have are the tales we told huddled in our cold homes and cells when they were not listening.

Those tales that have survived, as You know, are filled with mystery and wonder but not the details that a philosophical mind would require. We may enjoy them for their rough beauty and their soul of suffering and hope, but few indeed are the facts we may glean from them.

As You also know, we have recovered some few texts and inscriptions of the Giants when we finally defeated them. Sadly, I and my brethren have failed at this time to uncover the meaning in these remaining texts for humans were never permitted to learn to read the language of the Giants.

We can deduce the sounds of the letters, and across our world virtually every language uses a script that evolved from our regional memories of the Giants’ alphabet. However, though we at times can guess the sound, we cannot divine the meaning of the words.

Nevertheless, the Imperial version of Kshiurana “Shijuren” may offer a clue, as we think the Giants referred to themselves as the yuran, or something similar. Our best guess, then, is that the word survived from their language. Perhaps the original word meant “Giants’ World” or “Giants’ Home.” We may never know, for theirs is a language we have essentially lost. 

Forgive us our failure, but know, my prince, that my brethren and I will not rest until we have learned what these say. Should any of us die before can report our success to You, know that our successors will take up this banner and strive forever to unlock those secrets.

Hence, Your Highness, I humbly apologize that I cannot answer for You the question that You have asked. History, as we know it, holds not that answer. Philosophy instructs us, as is obvious to You, that there must be a start, a single prime movement or prime thing that from which all else is derived. To my greatest shame, I cannot put a name or description to that starting point.

Though I realize that I have but merely walked upon a trail that is brightly lit to Your mind, I hope that this exercise has not been without some worth to You. Perhaps, this methodical approach has highlighted something that You knew but had not previously considered in the limited time Your duties allow You to consider natural philosophy.

In such hopes, I remain Your dutiful servant, Katayana of Amaranth.

– Excerpt of the Katayanicum, Book I, Chapter 2.