Rob’s Update: A Stately Pleasure Dome

Week 21 of 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great day.

Current Playlist Song

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

Quote of the Week

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

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

News and Works in Progress

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

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

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

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

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

Today’s Weight: 388.4

Updated Word Count: Not sure, will know next week

Shijuren Wiki: 756 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 342 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Currently Available Works

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

Interview: J. Edward Neill

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

Interview: J. Edward Neill

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

Dark Art of J. Edward Neill

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

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

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

Sticky the Laser Eyed Cat

Lightning Round

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

And Where can we find you?

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thanks for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326.

If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Also, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

 

Rob’s Update: The Finish Line

Week 20 of 2018

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

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

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

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

Current Playlist Song

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

Quote of the Week

This is why I pay Kellie Hultgren.

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

News and Works in Progress

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

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

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

Today’s Weight: 388.4

Updated Word Count: 1057

Shijuren Wiki: 736 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 59 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Currently Available Works

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

Interview: Kit Daven

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

Kit Daven Interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kit Daven Portrait

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

Oh, and I love the colour orange, too.

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

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

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

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

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

The Other Castle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And Where can we find you?

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

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

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

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

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

Why yes, Rob. Yes, I do.

Forgotten Gemstone

The Forgotten Gemstone

The Other Castle

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

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

Author Biography

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


Thanks for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326.

If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Also, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

 

Rob’s Update: No Quarter

Week 19 of 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current Playlist Song

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

Quote of the Week

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

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

– Led Zeppelin, “No Quarter”

News and Works in Progress

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

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

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

Today’s Weight: 392.2

Updated Word Count: 33108

Shijuren Wiki: 756 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 331 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Currently Available Works

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

Interview: Amanda Makepeace

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

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

War for Jupiter
War for Jupiter

What is your quest?

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

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

Amanda Makepeace Portrait
Amanda Makepeace Portrait

What is your favorite color?

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

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

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

Long List Anthology, Volume 3

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

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

Drusilla, Studio Cat Extraordinaire
Drusilla, Studio Cat Extraordinaire

Lightning Round

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Where can we find you?

Forest Dreams

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

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

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

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

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


Thanks for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326.

If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Also, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Rob’s Update: The Y-Option

Week 17 of 2018

Greetings all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current Playlist Song

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

Quote of the Week

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

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

News and Works in Progress

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

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

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

Today’s Weight: 391.8

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

Shijuren Wiki: 756 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 331entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Currently Available Works

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

Rob’s Update: NFL Christmas

Week x of 2018

Tonight is NFL Christmas, otherwise known as the start of the NFL draft. Since perhaps my favorite reason to watch sports is to figure out how to make each team better and track prospects, this is one of my favorite weekends of the year.

If you follow me on Facebook, I’ll be doing a live commentary of my thoughts about the first round tonight. I’ll probably do it again tomorrow for the 2nd and 3rd rounds.

Last weekend was Constellation in Lincoln. I meant to do a full AAR, but didn’t have time. To sum up, it was a good time. A longtime SCA friend offered me some dealer table space and I sold a couple of books. My three panels went well, and I made some new connections.

I also got my hands on a treasure in the charity auction. I’ll talk about that when the time is right.

This week I started ferrying loads from the storage unit down to Olathe. The goal is to get the storage unit emptied before the end of May, then do a big truck for everything in the house in June.

This process is not interfering with my writing, fortunately. I’m scheduling it so I have a good writing session at Brewbaker’s each way. Even so, it’s still taking about six hours, each trip, and if I have a con or event on the weekend, I’m missing some of my ancillary project time. For example, I didn’t get any work done on the Four Horsemen wiki, though I expect to do a bunch on Sunday.

Brief Is My Flame is going well. I was actually above 70k, but I cut some back because it didn’t flow right. Hopefully, that chunk will work for None Call Me Mother, but it may just be a random snippet that shows up down the road.

With that, I’m going to start focusing on football.

Current Playlist Song

I’m watching the draft tonight at Buffalo Wild Wings, which means I’m not really listening to anything I recognize. So I think I’m just going to mention one of my favorite songs, which is odd, because it’s simply the introduction of a TV event.

But the duh-duh-duh-duhhhh of the original Monday Night Football theme gets me rocking every time.

And yes, I do have the .mp3 in my playlist.

Quote of the Week

Today is the anniversary of William Shakespeare’s baptism, and I might just be able to find a quote or two from him. I chose this one because it also sort of reflects the story of the players that will get selected in the draft this weekend.

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.
– William Shakespeare

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (2,007)
  • AFS (2,681)
  • Brief Is My Flame (69,280)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Not even an interview this week.

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on David L. Burkhead. You can find his Amazon page here: https://www.amazon.com/David-L-Burkhead/e/B005B4HLF2/. In the next week or so, he’ll be releasing the first book in a new series called Alchemy of Shadows. I had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of it, and I really enjoyed it.

Today’s Weight: 389.2

Updated Word Count: 1057

Shijuren Wiki: 756 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 314 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Currently Available Works

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

Rob’s Update: Let It Begin Here

Week 16 of 2018

Greetings all

It’s been a productive week here. I made solid process on Brief Is My Flame and did a goodly amount of work on the Four Horsemen wiki.

I have three big things to cover in this week’s email. First, this upcoming weekend Constellation in Lincoln. I know I’m on three panels. One where I go over the Martin Koszta Affair and talk about using history in SF/F, one called the Mean Streets of Minas Tirith, where I talk about Noir in SF/F, and then Blending Genres. I may be on other panels, too. Should be lots of fun.

Secondly, I am taking Chris Kennedy’s advice and building a release team. I’m looking for volunteers to receive advance copies of my books and be prepared to put reviews up on Amazon on the first few days of release. If you are interested in being a part of my release team, send an email to: rob@robhowell.org and I’ll get you added.

Thirdly, I have now entered the world of Patreon. You can find my Patreon page at: https://www.patreon.com/rhodri2112. Currently, I have two tiers of support. Both tiers are funded by me putting up snippets of my current work in progress. The $1 tier will also receive a copy of the e-book when it is released. The $5 tier will not only get a copy of the e-book, but will also received a signed physical copy of the book. Also, I have some extra special swag planned along the way. I may add some higher tiers in the future, but only if I figure out appropriate rewards.

Even if you’re not planning on joining a tier right now, you might want to bookmark the link as I’ll put up some snippets of already published works.

With that, I think it’s time for me to get back to work.

Current Playlist Song

“Rosemary’s Sister” by Claddagh Ring. Claddagh Ring was my gateway into Irish, Celtic, and medieval music. I don’t know where you can find their CDs any more, but if you ever see one, snap it up. They’re quite good.

Quote of the Week

There’s really only one quote appropriate to April 19th.

“Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war let it begin here.”
– Captain John Parker, to his Minute Men on Lexington Green, April 19, 1775.

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (2,007)
  • AFS (2,681)
  • Brief Is My Flame (66,250)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight was on one the most successful independent writers out there, Doug Dandridge. His interview is here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1041 and you can find his Amazon page at: https://www.amazon.com/Doug-Dandridge/e/B006S69CTU/.

Today’s Weight: 390.4

Updated Word Count: 29,048

Shijuren Wiki: 756 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 314 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
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels
Currently Available Works

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

Rob’s Update: The Far, Unlit Unknown

Week 15 of 2018

Greetings all. Sorry about mailing my update on Friday. I was wrestling with my taxes last night and I lost track of time.

I had originally planned on these updates to come out every Wednesday, but it is becoming clear that Thursday fits my normal schedule better. This is in part because on Tuesday I’m now putting out an interview on Tuesday and on Wednesday I’m doing an update post on the Four Horseman Wiki in a different forum. So, I’m just going to plan on doing them every Thursday, and stop growling at myself for being a day late. Or in this case, two days late.

Anyway, things are going well here. I crossed the 60k mark with lots coming to mind with Brief Is My Flame. I’m on track to have it done by Pennsic. I had hoped to have None Call Me Mother done by then as well, but fall is a more realistic date.

The big news here is that we finally have a resolution about my house situation. In June, I decided to move up to Omaha to be with my sweetie. At the time, there were arrangements in place to sell my house in KC so we could get a place up here.

Unfortunately, those plans did not work out. Fortunately, though, there have been two changes. One, my sweetie passed the Missouri bar. Two, my sweetie’s company is transferring her to the KC office so she can use that license. So, in a case of everything old is new again we’re moving back into the KC house.

I’m really excited, in part because we get to arrange everything in a way based off of knowing how that house flows after living there for seven years. I’m also excited to have a kitchen again, where I can cook for my sweetie. We’re even hosting the joint family Christmas get-together.

Exciting, but I predict the next couple of months will be “interesting.”

Current Playlist Song

Ironically, given that we’re moving back into a subdivision, the current song is Rush’s “Subdivisions.” This was such a huge song for me, as the lines: “Nowhere is the dreamer, Or the misfit so alone” fit me both when the song came out and often enough now.

Quote of the Week

So, maybe this my reason too…

“I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of everything else.” – G.K. Chesterton

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (2,007)
  • AFS (2,681)
  • Brief Is My Flame (60,562)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Todd Fischer, who joined me for an interview earlier in the week. You can find his interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1029 and you can find his work on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Todd-H.-C.-Fischer/e/B079TZDYY3 and his home page is here: http://www.todd-fischer.com/.

Today’s Weight: 389.6

Updated Word Count: 26,423

Shijuren Wiki: 756 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 268 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
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

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

Opinions and fiction of person misplaced in time.