Tag Archives: A Lake Most Deep

Interview: Jesse Oak Rise

Greetings all

This week’s interview is with Jesse Oak Rise, an author and videographer I met in Pittsburgh last year when I went to Confluence during the middle of Pennsic. I was struck in our conversations about how much they have studied technical details of making videos, something I know very little about and Jesse taught me about.

Interview: Jesse Oak Rise

What is your quest?

Presently I run a blog dealing with topics surrounding the trans and non-binary community, mental health, and Crohn’s Disease. In the future I have several plans for my YouTube channel, The Knighted Nerd, which are creating video reviews of trans related media as well as video game content through a trans perspective. This would include Let’s Plays of various games. Interviews with trans and non-binary community leaders. Hopefully gain interviews with politicians and political leaders. Attend trans and mental health related conferences and, hopefully, document them.

I wouldn’t say I have success. My influences, however, are as follows: Lyndsey Sickler, educator and advocate, among other things. Created and runs TransPride Pittsburgh. The late Nancy Evelyn Gold, who inspired me in the first place to learn Adobe Premiere Pro / Final Cut. Anthony Q. Artis, author of The Shut Up and Shoot Freelance Video Guide and The Shut Up and Shoot Documentary Guide, Voice-Over Voice Actor: What It’s Like Behind the Mic by Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt, The Art of Voice Acting: The Craft and Business of Performing for Voiceover by James Alburger.

Also these YouTubers: Caleb Wojcik, creator of FIT Video Guy, DSLR Video Shooter, Lindsay Ellis, Chase Thomas, PushingUpRoses, MarzGurl, and, of course, Markiplier / Jacksepticeye

What is your favorite color?

I’m, by no means, a professional videographer, voice actor, or YouTuber. What I am is a person that has worn many hats.

No matter which of these you do or want to do the biggest lessons I’ve learned in all three are: Make sure your audio is on point. No $10 microphones. Go for a Blue Snowball or  Yeti. If you want to go XLR,  go for Rode Mic with a usb interface. Make sure you’re audio is shielded in some way, even if you have to build makeshift plywood walls to stick soundproofing on, it’s better than having anything under or over your voice.

Video, depending how you want to do it, look for either a quality web cam or a camcorder. If you got the bucks, look into getting a DSLR camera. Look into 3 or 4 point lighting. This will bring your video game up a notch.

If you’re going to do green screen, YouTube and your local library are your friend to learn. These are how I have learned everything I know now.

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

What do you mean? African or European paint brush?

The biggest challenge I have has plagued me all my life: money. I don’t have the funds to do the things I want to do the things I mentioned above, much to my dismay.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I’ve been taught all my life that I’ll never amount to anything. Over the last two and ½ decades I’ve learned that I have an innate ability to quickly learn almost any skill quickly. With this tool I know I could succeed at almost anything, if given the opportunity.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? The mahna mahna guy
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Both at once
  • Favorite Sports Team? What’s a sports?
  • Cake or Pie? Piecake
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon
  • Favorite Chip Dip? French onion
  • Wet or Dry? Yes.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Myself, Jesse Oak Rise.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Jagermister
  • Favorite Superhero? Deadpool
  • Steak Temperature? 650
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? All in the Family
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall, cause every day is Halloween
  • Favorite Pet?  Can I own Death as a pet?
  • Best Game Ever? Will it blend
  • Coffee or Tea? Tea
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Yes

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

Have you thought about adding authentic transgender characters in your writings?

My Answer: Thought about it, yes? Done it? No, because it’s never been relevant to the story I’m telling. Given that I write hack and slash, swords and sorcery action novels, I generally focus on whether my characters are strong, smart, fast, tough, or wise because those things matter in a fight. Rarely does plumbing of any type affect the outcome of a fight or a story, so I don’t talk about it much. 

If it ever matters to a story, I have no problem including transgender characters. However, I’m not going to throw one in simply to throw one in. I think that sort of thing is dishonest and disrespectful if the only reason to do so is to say, “Here, look at me, I put in a transgender character, aren’t I awesome!” If and when I put a transgender character into a story, it’s because the “transgender” part matters. Otherwise, transgender people are simply “people.”

It all boils down to what makes a good story. If a character being transgender makes a better story, I’ll make that happen in a heartbeat. If it doesn’t, I already try to strip everything I can in my writing that doesn’t push the story along.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

I can be found at

And where can we find you?

Currently I only attend Confluence in Pittsburgh, PA

Do you have a creator biography?

Presently on my blog, which needs work


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 Swooping Spotted Hawk

Week 22 of 2018

Greetings all

I had a great time at ConQuest last weekend. Met some cool people, sold a few books, learned some things. Good stuff. My complete AAR is here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1142.

The first edited copies of Brief Is My Flame are starting to come in. I’m truly humbled by all the work my Advance Reader Team is doing for me. Thanks for helping me make a better book.

It’s clear to me that I’m getting more skilled at the technical aspects of writing. I have dramatically reduced certain mistakes that I commonly made in A Lake Most Deep. I still have a long way to go, of course, but it’s progress. I may not be designing better furniture and it may not have fantastic decoration, but at least I’m building the items better than ever.

This weekend is Wichicon, a small con held as part of Wichita’s Riverfest. I don’t that it will be a great selling con, but Wichita is home and it’s a chance to see Mom.

Today, I’ll start going through some of the edits, though next week will be when I start focusing on that. I’ve also started the short story for the next 4HU anthology. I’m in the throw words at the page and wait for me to make some sort of connection that actually turns into a story.

Current Playlist Song

“Piano Man” by Billy Joel. I know it’s overplayed, but I really appreciate the line “they’re sharing a drink called loneliness.” I’ve been there often enough.

Quote of the Week

Today is Walt Whitman’s birthday, so this quote seems obvious to me. He was so good with evocative language. We remember this part of Song of Myself mostly because of the “barbaric yawp” and perhaps Robin Williams in Dead Poet Society, but here’s more just to give the ‘yawp’ its context.

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,

I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds,

It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,

I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,

If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,

And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

– Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (2,007)
  • AFS (2,681)
  • LD (819)
  • Brief Is My Flame (106,000 exactly)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Gray Rinehart, a talented musician, editor, and writer. You can find my interview of him at: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1145 and his website is: http://graymanwrites.com.

Today’s Weight: 392.4

Updated Word Count: Too many computers, the count file is on the desktop

Shijuren Wiki: 756 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 349 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: The One Constant

Week 13 of 2018

Greetings all

First, thanks to all the people who joined the mailing list at Gulf Wars. I finally got a chance to add you this week.

This week in general was a week of catching up on things that need doing. I added a new regular feature to the blog, which I hope will become a weekly event. I’ll be interviewing a number of independent creators with a partly whimsical set of questions that will still talk about different creative methods. I think it’ll be pretty fun for all of us.

The big project this week has been catching up on A Lake Most Deep audiobook files. Yes, you read that right, the audiobook is a-coming round the mountain. All the chapters have now been recorded, and I’m going through each one to catch any mistakes. I’m still not sure of a release date, but by the end of next week I will have gone through all the recordings. We’re getting close there.

That took away from my writing, though, so I’m only around 54000 words in Brief Is My Flame, though I’m really pleased with where things are going. The two main threads are both progressing, and each have the kind of action I lead to read.

If I don’t enjoy reading a book, I can’t expect you to enjoy it either, and I’m enjoying it.

Current Playlist Song

“Gaudete” by Steeleye Span

I just got a new Steeleye Span album, which I will soon add to my writing playlist. Another is on the way. If you don’t know these guys, they do a bunch of traditional English and British Isles folk songs and mixing them with the 60s and 70s folk and rock traditions. Great stuff, especially “Saucy Sailor,” one of my favorite songs.

Quote of the Week

Today is opening day of baseball. In my mind, this should be a national holiday, so this week’s quote is a longer one. However, it’s a great one, delivered by a fantastic actor.

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh…people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”
― Terence Mann (James Earl Jones), Field of Dreams

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (1,144)
  • AFS (2,681)
  • Brief Is My Flame (53,872)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Chaz Kemp, who is a great artist and also my guinea pig on the new interview feature. The interview link is here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=976.

Also, you can find his website here: https://www.chazkemp.com/.

Today’s Weight: 388.4

Updated Word Count: 20,753

Shijuren Wiki: 741 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 226 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: Spreading the Word

Week of 13-19 August

What an eventful week so far!

First, I’ve added those who signed up at Pennsic. Many thanks for all who talked to me there, and I am already looking forward to Pennsic 47. Welcome to my weekly slice of Robness.

The biggest news is that one of the short stories I’ve been mentioning for a while was just accepted to be part of the For a Few Credits More, the second anthology in the Four Horsemen Universe.

The 4HU is one where humanity is one of hundreds of alien races living a loose arrangement whose sole goal is to ensure that the overall peace is maintained. Within that, however, are all sorts of smaller conflicts involving mercenaries, and the universe centers around these mercs fighting in a Byzantine universe of plotting and treachery.

I love it.

You can find these books here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074KHFMQT?ref=series_rw_dp_labf

The cover is here.

FAFCM Cover
Cover for the Four Horsemen anthology For a Few Credits More.

I’ve never been more excited to be called “AND MORE” in my life.

But that’s not the only exciting thing going on here. Rob Saladino will begin recording A Lake Most Deep in audiobook form starting around 1 September. He’ll be doing my other Shijuren novels soon after, too. I don’t yet have any clue when actual release dates will be, because it takes time to do all of this well, but they are a-comin’.

In less productive news, because of my travel schedule, the move, and recovery from Pennsic, I’ve not done much other than lie in bed and contemplate bad things happening to my characters in Brief Is My Flame.

I’m just going to say that I think my characters would prefer me to sit and write than lie and plot, because I’m much nastier to them in the middle of the night snuggled in my bed with my cat sitting on my head than I am typing on my laptop. Far nastier.

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote sort of encapsulates my writing philosophy. I write about people, and whether they are wizards or use fusion-powered starships or wear powered armor, stories are about people.

“War has changed little in principle from the beginning of recorded history. The mechanized warfare of today is only an evolution of the time when men fought with clubs and stones, and its machines are as nothing without the men who invent them, man them and give them life. War is force- force to the utmost- force to make the enemy yield to our own will- to yield because they see their comrades killed and wounded- to yield because their own will to fight is broken. War is men against men. Mechanized war is still men against men, for machines are masses of inert metal without the men who control them- or destroy them.”
Ernest J. King, as quoted in the prologue (page viii) of his memoirs, Fleet Admiral King: A Naval Record (1952).

News and Works in Progress

  • Brief Is My Flame (about 10k)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Nothing yet this week, but will have some additions to the Wiki tomorrow

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s Spotlight is on Rob Saladino , who is recording my audiobooks. His IMDB page is here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5238545/ and his Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/thehumblereview. If you go there, you’ll see he recently recorded a biography about Prince. I suspect this is the closest I’ll ever get to Prince.

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

Weekend Doings

Greetings all

Been a busy weekend here in Rob-ville, though much of the work was done weeks ago.

First, Where Now the Rider is live on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Where-Rider-Adventures-Edward-Book-ebook/dp/B071462WXM/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

In honor of the release of Where Now the Rider, the e-book version of A Lake Most Deep is free on Amazon starting tomorrow and running all week long. If you have been wanting to tell your friends about my books, now’s the perfect time.

If you want to hear about my writing philosophies, you can check out Write Pack Radio today.  This week’s podcast talks about Plutarch and Writing Non-Fiction.

I’ll also be featured next week when we talk about working with an editor.

For me, I’ve spent this weekend packing and plotting several things.

Plot. Plot. Plot.

Bwa ha, bwa ha ha.

Preproduction Thoughts

The last few days, I’ve been in final preproduction mode for Where Now the Rider. Right now, I’m close to complete because I had a very productive weekend.

At Comicon I mentioned that was my plan and someone I talked to asked what I meant, so I thought I’d write a blog post for what I do. It’s easy to say that preproduction is doing all the things that turn a manuscript into a publishable novel, but what does that entail. Here’s a sort of checklist for me.

  1. Create a title page and colophon. This is the basic stuff that says who is involved in the copyright, like the artists and editors, and the normal copyright disclaimers. This page is in every book, so this part is easy for me as I have one written already and I cut and paste, changing the relevant information.
  2. ISBN Numbers: I assign an ISBN three numbers to each book, one for the electronic version, paperback version, and audiobook version. I don’t necessarily have to assign one to the electronic version, but I think there’s an advantage and since I buy the numbers in bulk, it costs me very little. In any case, this is generally a tedious but fairly quick process. I then add these numbers to the colophon.
  3. Dedication and Foreword. I often do these ahead of time when I feel motivated. They need editing, after all, though I’ll admit I don’t worry about editing these as much as I do the text.
  4. Double-check the map. Make sure it’s only 300dpi and fits in the space. At this point, it’s a standard thing and all I’m doing is making sure nothing’s gone wrong.
  5. Adding the people, places, and glossary. This is the longest part of preproduction. I could cut a bunch of hours if I didn’t do this, however, I think it’s important to make things easier for my readers. Also, I find it extremely helpful to me to keep the online wiki at www.shijuren.org updated. I’ve done many of the entries while I’m writing the book, but this makes sure I haven’t missed any. I’ll discuss this section more in a moment.
  6. Adding the world-building appendices: the calendar, magic, and religion of Shijuren. These are written and I think they’re pretty good as the stand, so this is just cut and paste right now.
  7. Adding extra pages. I’ve discovered that if I need to make an edit, I want to have some extra pages at the end. Not many, say 5-6. However, when Patrick McEvoy makes the cover, he has to know how many pages wide to make the spine. This is tricky. If I add any pages, he has to make the spine wider. Rather than risk this, I add some ahead of time so if I need to make an addition to the book at the next printing, I can do so without bothering him. What if, for example, I want to put a snippet of Edward, Book IV in the end? I’ve started adding a snippet of the book immediately following to A Lake Most Deep and The Eyes of a Doll, by the way.
  8. Cover blurb. I hate this part. How can it be so hard to write a cover blurb when you have written a 100k-word novel? For whatever reason, this is incredibly difficult to me. I suppose I’m getting better, but it’s still tough.
  9. Double-check all the other cover items. this really isn’t much, actually, since we’ve done this before. I like my author description so I’m not changing it right now.
  10. Look for orphans. Theoretically, Word is supposed to do that, however, I’ve seen a few of them appear. It’s less of a problem since I started writing in the format I end up printing in (6×9, half-inch margins plus an extra half in for gutter, Garamond 12pt font). If I find any, I see if I can cut a line or two somewhere in the chapter. Usually I can.
  11. The last, absolute last, thing is creating a Table of Contents. Fortunately, Word does most of the work for me however if you make any changes to the text that might add or subtract a page messes things up. I do it last, then clean it up a little to look like how I want it.

That’s basically it. There’s probably more I’m not thinking of right now, but that’ll do except for more on the people, places, glossary, and wiki.

I enjoy working on the wiki. It’s usually a relaxing way to spend time because worldbuilding is my favorite part of this. Part of the adding the list of people and places is to add links to the main copy of the text. I always work with what will be the electronic copy as shifting to a print version is much easier than vice versa. Thank you, CTRL-SHIFT-F9, which removes every hyperlink in a selection, when combined with CTRL-A, I can eliminate all the hyperlinks in two keystrokes. The print version does not need them, after all.

Anyway, I get the electronic version done and updated, mashing every mistake I can find. I then upload it to Amazon. Only then do I convert to the print version and send to CreateSpace.

And that’s it. It’s a lot of detail work that takes me days because I need to be focused for it to work, and of course I still make mistakes. Fewer now than when I started, though.

Now it’s time for me to go write that blurb.

Planet Comicon AAR

Greetings all

I’m mostly recovered from a great weekend at KC Planet Comicon. It’s an exhausting weekend, of course, but it’s a great chance to meet people and see all sorts of cool stuff.

The con does a number of things well. First, they’re not overpriced. It *is* possible for Artist Alley types to break even and make money. There are lots of cons where that’s not the case. I like the time we have to set up. The big vendors and exhibits can start setting up on Wednesday. I personally went in early on Thursday. The con actually starts on Friday at noon, and smaller vendors like myself can even set up on Friday morning, if needed. Also, I like that they had so many volunteers and they did a good job of making those volunteers available to us.

The only truly bad experience I had was the parking, and I was fortunate. Parking around Bartle Hall is tough, and I’m happy to pay $75 for one of the dock spots. I parked on the West Dock, which is really convenient for me. The problem was their system of purchasing. When I got there Thursday morning, I was told specifically that if I wanted a West Dock spot they would go on sale at 5pm. Fair enough. Except they went on sale earlier than that. I got mine at 4:30pm, and I think mine was the last one. I bet there were a number of livid people who followed the rules and got screwed. I know I almost was. I passed that upchannel because that’s an awful yet avoidable customer fail.

Comicon was bigger than ever, I think. I know I spent an hour before hand on Saturday walking around and I did not see it all. Food choices were also better than ever. They didn’t simply have the normal hot dog and nacho choices, but several food trucks parked in one end. Also, there was a service that would deliver food to our booths for vendors, however, they only offered carb-heavy choices so I didn’t have anything. I almost tempted Giulia into the 96-ounce Roasterie coffee, though.

They also offered a number of perks to those with exhibitor badges. Apparently, they also worked as fast pass badges in lines for celebrities or food. In general, I would have to say Planet Comicons are great for vendors.

I had a goodly amount of traffic throughout the weekend. Friday afternoon was slow, but that’s to be expected. Saturday and Sunday were hopping, though, and I got lots of names for my mailing list as well as enough sales to break even. More than good enough.

My aisle also benefited from having Timothy Zahn across from me. He was very gracious and patient. I actually brought my first edition Blackcollar and Backlash Mission books which Dad bought used a loooong time ago. He enjoyed seeing the copies, and we both had a chuckle at the combined $3.50 Dad paid for those. I also got a chance to reminisce about the Green Dragon, which was such an important place for me growing up.

I tried something new this year. Last year, a number of people admired my cover art so I printed off 12 each 8x10s of the covers from A Lake Most Deep, The Eyes of a Doll, and Where Now the Rider. As a side note, I ordered Monday night, they were shipped on Tuesday, and I got them on Wednesday. MPix did a great job. Anyway, I only sold 3 prints, though I gave away another to a good customer.

I think I marketed them incorrectly. First, I think people would have paid more than $12 if they were larger, like 11×17. Second, I offered the same kind of deal as I do with my books: Buy one, get a discounted price for any others. I think a better way to market them will be $12, $9 if you show me your Kindle where you purchased one of my ebooks. That could be a good way to offer the 8x10s. I’m still contemplating the postcard idea, but this will do for now, I think.

I really wish I had had Where Now the Rider done. Selling a set of 3 would have been a great option for me. It’ll be there next time, though and I’m discovering that books happen on their own schedule, to a certain extent.

My other regret is not getting on panels again this year. Totally slipped my mind. I’ll not let that happen next year.

All in all, though, it was a great weekend and I look forward to doing it again next year.

 

Where Now the Rider Annotated Snippet 2

Here’s another annotated snippet. It picks up where the first snippet, which you can find at http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=56 concludes.

As before, I’ll add occasional annotations indented and italicized.

Morning, 1 Hjerstmoanne, 1712 MG

I followed her to a long, low, rambling building running along a ridge around Achrida. It served as the primary home of the Mrnjavcevic family, the leading clan of the Dassaretae, one of the two tribes that had squabbled for control of Achrida for centuries.

The Dassaretae was an actual tribe in the Balkans. It’s not a particularly well-known one, though, and it seemed a cool name so I chose it as one of the tribes. The same goes for the Mrnjavcevic family. Even though I’m writing fantasy novels, I love researching history too much to not steal fun names and places.

The old woman who guarded the door had never liked me. The look on her face made it clear I remained unworthy to sully her honored halls, but she allowed me to enter without comment. Vukasin had probably told her to expect me. She led us through the labyrinth of rooms and hallways.

“How big is this place, anyway?”

This exchange is a bit of foreshadowing that becomes important later in the book. Readers of Where Now the Rider will see where it comes into play.

Piri gave me a sly smile, but otherwise ignored me. Eventually we reached and the polished oak door that led to Vukasin’s sitting room and office. The grim doorwarden, knocked and opened the door at his response, not quite lifting her nose up at me. Not quite.
Vukasin sat at his desk, his hands full of various papers. He was a short man, but wide and powerful. His eyes were the color of basalt, which seemed appropriate to me, as he was as strong and deliberate as the mountains. The Zupan of the Dassaretae needed such strength, I guessed.

The historical Vukasin Mrnjavcevic was a general and later the military governor of a part of modern Macedonia. Interestingly, Marko Mrnjavcevic, his son, becomes the Prince Marko of Serbian legend that I refer to often in these novels.

“Sevener. I expected you, but not so soon. Still, I’m told many things have happened.”

“Yes, Zupan. It seemed wiser to come sooner rather than later. I know I owe you a great debt, and I would not have you think I am not grateful.”

Zupan is an another historical term. An easy place to use something different besides leader or ruler. 

“I know you are not ungrateful. I would never have worked with you had I thought you were.”

“I appreciate your trust in me.”

“You’re welcome. Maja, pour us some water.” He waved at the chairs before his desk. Piri and I sat while Maja went to a sideboard and poured goblets of cold lakewater sweetened with pomegranate. I took a sip before beginning.

There’s a scene in A Lake Most Deep where Svetislav rows Edward out into the lake to discuss the Gropa Council. In that scene, Svetislav handed Edward a mug to dip lakewater out to drink. That actually happened to me in Ohrid. I took a short boat cruise into the lake and the captain handed out a couple of cheap mugs for us to drink from the lake. It was, in fact, delicious, and that’s why I make such a point of it in these novels.

“I don’t know entirely what you know, but here are the basics.”

He waved a dismissive hand. “I knew almost everything yesterday. The people who tried to intimidate Honker Harald and his family after his daughter found one of Gibroz’s thugs dead near Biljana’s Springs were led by Markov, one of Gibroz’s lieutenants.”

“I’m not surprised. You supplied all the people who got the information, after all.”

“Yes. And you used them well.”

I shrugged. “Markov was working for the Emperor.”

“I suspected that was the case.” Vukasin’s nostrils flared, but otherwise, he expressed no emotion at the news that his lord had betrayed him.

Obviously, this is my way of summing up The Eyes of a Doll. I hate exposition, and in some ways it’s not relevant to Where Now the Rider, however, it’s part of Edward’s character development, which I touch upon in the following paragraph.

In my homeland, thegns would have flocked to his banner to avenge that betrayal. My mind filled with memories of looking across the field at thegns who had done just that for Cynric when his son, Penwulf, my lord, had betrayed him. My father had fought under Cynric’s banner on that day, and I had killed him.

Vukasin cleared his throat and I returned to the moment.

“He wanted a war between Ylli of Lezh and Gibroz so that you could not have a base of power against him,” I said.

More foreshadowing, in a way. Let me just say I’m perfectly willing for you all to remember the Emperor’s paranoia. It could be a reoccurring theme. Could be.

“Or Vesela.”

“Yes, or her.”

Vukasin smiled. “This is Achrida. Things change. Yes, we Dassaretae are more prominent now, but never underestimate the Enchelei, even if it has only been a few months since you exposed Pal and his crime. Vesela may not have expected to take over as zupan so soon, but she helped lead the Enchelei all her life.”

The Gropa and Enchelei are, like the Mrnjavcevics and Dassaretae, historical.

I nodded, quiet again for a moment, then looking deep in Vukasin’s eyes. “I’m sorry for those who died.”

His black eyes turned even darker. “I know. I am too.”

We sat with our memories for a moment.

“You didn’t kill them, though,” continued Vukasin. “That was the Emperor’s people.”

“I suppose.”

“Welcome to the Empire.” Piri’s face bore that sardonic smile again.

“Thanks.”

“And today I think I know everything,” Vukasin said as he leaned back.

“What have you learned now?”

“I learned that you are prompt in paying your debts. That’s not an insignificant thing in this city.”

“I have no doubt,” I said sarcastically. “What else?”

“I wasn’t sure about Gabrijela.”

I looked at my hands. Eventually I added, “Yes, Gabrijela was helping the Emperor.”

“And her fate?”

“She’s gone. Sebastijan is taking her to the Great City.”

“We just watched them leave before coming here,” added Piri.

“So now what?” Vukasin stared at me.

“I think I’ll go back to the Faerie and get drunk.”

Vukasin chuckled. “While I agree that’s an excellent idea, I was thinking a little more into the future. You stopped in Achrida on the way to serve the Emperor. I got Piri’s message this morning that you’re not going to serve him now. Where will you go?”

“I wish I knew. I suppose I could go back to Ivan Yevgenich. He’s been dealing with Demmenkreisen for a year now. Or maybe somewhere else in the Kreisens. The Periaslavlans have noticed more than the usual raiding all along the Rueckenberge.”

“But?”

“His izba isn’t where I really want to spend the rest of my life, as good a man as he is.” I shook Raakel’s ghost out of my mind. “And in the Kreisens I’d have to serve some lordling raiding villages. I don’t know of a single one of them as worthy of my service as Penwulf, and he was an oathbreaker and a fool.”

This is an example of the synergy of writing I Am a Wondrous Thing. I actually really like these paragraphs. It lets me build a whole world around Achrida while still being focused on Edward.

It’s also an example of serendipity. When I started writing Wondrous Thing I had no intention of putting Edward into it. Then I realized I had already done so in A Lake Most Deep and he had to make a cameo. Even though I didn’t intend it, his appearance strengthens these Edward books.

Another note about Edward in Wondrous Thing. I actually struggled to write his part because I kept putting myself too much into his head, especially since I did not want him a POV character.

“The Old Empire? Or Matara? Take the trade route across the lakes and see fair Markanda and points east?”

“Perhaps.” I shrugged. “Vukasin. I just don’t know. After I get drunk I’ll talk with Piri and Zoe about it.”

Vukasin rested his dark eyes on me without saying anything. I watched dust float through a sunbeam sneaking through Vukasin’s shuttered window. Piri made no motion.

I intend for the Adventures of Edward Aethelredson to be a recurring series where readers don’t have to have read the earlier books to enjoy the story. And in general, I think I succeeded.

However, there’s no doubt that these first three are tied together for the reason that I detailed in the last snippet. Taken together, they will make Achrida Edward’s home.

Where Now the Rider Annotated Snippet 1

Greetings all

As I’m getting closer to having Where Now the Rider, I thought I’d release some of it into the wild. I also think it might be interesting to you if I annotated some of my thoughts as to why I made some  of the choices I did.

This first snippet is the start of Chapter 1. I’ll add annotations indented and in italics.

Early Morning, 1 Hjerstmoanne, 1712 MG

Many of you will remember that The Eyes of a Doll ended on 30 Heamoanne. This is the very next day. I could, obviously, have chosen a different day to start, but I think this scene is important for Edward, as you’ll see.

Unfortunately, that provided me with a challenge. Edward is wounded at the end of The Eyes of a Doll and he cannot have healed fully in a day. That meant that whatever his next adventure would be it required him to be capable of handling while not fully healthy, at least at the start. I actually have 10-15k of the next novel written because what I started with required him to be fully healthy at the beginning. Where Now the Rider became a completely different story because of this challenge.

I gripped the hilt of my saex tightly, tensing to draw it and let blood run along the water pattern in the steel.

“You’re a fool, Sevener.”

I originally chose to design Edward’s homeland after the Heptarchy, the time in Anglo-Saxon history when they had seven different kingdoms. After I switched it to plain English and called it the Seven Kingdoms, I was pleased to find the epithet “Sevener” come so easy to the tongue.

The rage that filled me blocked the words so that I barely heard the familiar voice. Rage at my lover, who had betrayed me. Rage at my friends, who had betrayed themselves. Rage at the emperor for corrupting them. And rage at myself, for—, well for reasons I could not fathom, but rage nonetheless.

The voice spoke again, “Edward?”

This time the voice penetrated enough that most of the rage slipped away, leaving pain in its place. Pain on my left where a blade had nicked my kidney but a few days ago. Pain in my shoulder when a different blade had slid past the bone and through the meat. Without magic, I would be dead, but magic could only do so much. I almost welcomed the pain, given my rage, but even then I knew how stupid it was. I slowly released the hilt and moved my good hand to rest on the parapet in front of me. Without my right arm twisted around my back, my left shoulder and side relaxed and much of the pain went away.

“You really are a fool, Edward.”

“I had to send her away. Gibroz will kill her if he can.” I looked over the wall above South Gate in Achrida. The wall’s crenellations hid the face that had been speaking to me. It mattered little, though, because I knew the sardonic smile that Hecatontarch Piriska Mrnjavcevic wore right then.

Gibroz, by the way, is one of the few names that I did not pull from a list of real names. It’s completely made up, though it is based on something in particular. One of my inside jokes, actually, that I will encourage my readers to figure out.

 “Not that, idiot. You explained all that last night while you cried into Ragnar’s rakija. No, I mean standing here right now.”

Rakija, like all of the food and drink in my novels, is real. As a foodie, one of the fun parts of writing is scouring through traditional dishes to add, for lack of a better word, flavor to my novels. I actually intend to put recipes for things like ajvar and zelniks on my wiki entry for those things one of these days.

Off in the distance, I could still see two tiny black shapes kicking up dust in the dry summer morning. Then they turned past a hill and I would never see my lover again. I had no need to watch the caravaners jockeying for position or listen to their vicious cursing at each other, so I straightened up. The wound on my side protested again. I desperately wanted to scratch it, but fortunately the sling holding my left arm prevented me from scratching it.

As I said, I think this scene is important for Edward. He has to physically watch Gabrijela leave. I may be wrong, but I also think it’s important for my readers to see her leave.

One of the reasons I think that’s true is that Gabrijela is not out of the overall story of Shijuren and the Empire of Makhaira. She’s too interesting of a character to simply let her go. What her adventures will be is yet to come, however.

“I guess…” I reached back again, this time just to caress the hilt of my saex. The one constant in my life. “I guess I just needed to be here.”

I’ve used “saex” a couple of times already in this snippet. This is a place where my editor and I disagreed. I came up with that particular spelling as a transliteration of the aesc vowel that is the proper vowel in the word. It’s how I spell every aesc when I don’t actually use the proper letter, the squished “ae” you might be familiar with. However, Kellie told me the proper spelling now is “seax.”

I liked my spelling better so I kept it, even if I’m wrong.

Gabrijela had seen me standing on the gate as she passed through, but she had done nothing. I would not have known what to say if she had. I had sent her away because I loved her, but I could never trust her again. Nor could I trust the Emperor that had ruined her life simply to serve his madness.

Now I saw the sardonic smile as Piri turned to me. “I didn’t say it was the wrong choice, only that you’re a fool.” She had earned that smile on dozens of battlefields and in years of training new warriors.

I nodded sadly. “I suppose.” I looked back over the wall. “I just didn’t know what else to do.”

Piri said nothing as she led me down from the battlement. My bencriht thegn, Maja Mrnjavcevic, waited for us, restless as always. She started to say something, but Piri quelled her with a sharp look and led us back up the Trade Road.

Maja is an interesting character to me. I really like her potential for growth and someday she might be an even bigger character in Shijuren than Edward, assuming I don’t kill her off. I don’t plan to, but I might change my mind. And accidents happen. I’ve already killed a character in I Am a Wondrous Thing that I didn’t mean or want to. However, circumstances dictated it.

I followed the hecatontarch in silent thought until she turned off from the road. Given that we had miles to walk before getting to the Square of Legends, I glanced at her.

“We should go visit my uncle now.”

My anger spiked again. “He can wait.”

“You know better. You have to see him, and it should be sooner rather than later.” She laughed. “Especially since you’re likely to just wallow in the Faerie all day, surlier than even Karah on a bad day.”

I just want to make it clear that Karah is *not* modeled on any server that I know. Certainly not the ones at Brewbaker’s that routinely take care of me even though I sit here for hours working whenever I can.

“She has good days?”

“Why don’t you ask her that.” Piri laughed again. “Let me get a beer and get comfortable first, I want to watch that discussion.”

The thought of antagonizing the perpetually grumpy Karah, daughter of Ragnar Longtongue and barmaid of his inn, broke the mood.

“You’re probably right. Vukasin is just the most powerful man in this province. Not near as dangerous as Karah’s wrath.” I smiled wryly. “After all that he has done for me, think he’d appreciate me calling him uncle too?”

She laughed. “Absolutely. He especially enjoys it when hare-brained foreigners take him for granted.”

Overall, I tried to make this opening portion contain a goodly amount of summing up from what happened in The Eyes of a Doll without being pure exposition, while also setting Edward up as somewhat adrift. Part of the challenge writing Edward is that, for my purposes, he needs to stay in Achrida so I can continue to write these novels, but all along I’ve been working to make him have a reason to stay.

In the most simplistic form, A Lake Most Deep trapped him in Achrida for a moment, The Eyes of a Doll cut off his original plans, leaving him adrift, and Where Now the Rider will give him an actual reason to stay.

The rest of Chapter 1, by the way, is the meeting with Vukasin and some hints of what’s to come in this story. I’ll leave that portion for later.

Gulf Wars 2017 AAR

Shall we entitle this year’s Gulf Wars Gulfcicle? Maybe so. It was definitely the coldest Gulf I’ve been to, at least until Thursday. It was colder than several Estrellas I’ve attended, and those were routinely cold.

I never get cold, but this time I did. I could not get warm it seemed. Some of this was my spot in Drix’s booth, which was covered from sunshine but allowed the wind to come in. At night, I was fine in my bed, but during the days I even had to stop typing periodically because my hands were so cold.

I could have bought a hat, or another, heavier cloak, but I hate to buy things I would rarely use. Even if it’s that cold at Gulf next year, even if I knew it would be, I would not have spent money on something I won’t use until then. I did, however, buy my sweetie two yards of heavy wool to put over my chair.

Sales were not wonderful but not bad at all. I still don’t sell as much at Gulf Wars as I do at Kris Kinder, but sales were definitely up from last year. Of course, last year I did not have the opportunity to sell during the last day, but the pace was greater than it was on the earlier days. Overall, I netted more than enough to pay for site fee and gas to and from the Gulf Wars site. This is progress, especially since many of the sales were to people I’ve never met before.

During the week I was able to make a bunch of progress on Where Now the Rider. I had hoped to finish it while in Biloxi, but it’s trickier than I expected to get this paced right.

I’ve noticed on both Where Now the Rider and I Am a Wondrous Thing that it took me much longer than expected to deal with all the fiddly bits, especially the arrangement of chapters. I think it’s because I’m becoming a better writer and have more complex plots. A Lake Most Deep has a fairly straightforward plot. The Eyes of a Doll is less so, but still not particularly complex. Neither of those required as much time messing with the pacing. I just need to expect this time and adjust my preconceptions.

At this point I have about half of it locked into place, and about another third locked into place relative to a chapter before or behind it. I have about 3.5 chapters more to write to fill in some gaps I’ve found, and then cut some because it’ll be a bit long once those are done. Not much, though, as my editors always find some bloat. Shocking, I know.

I was pleased to have a couple of really good opportunities to sing. This year, the Calontir party was the same night as Moonlight Madness, and so I did not get to attend. I came back from selling and promptly went to bed. However, Thursday and Friday were wonderful. I expected more socializing on Saturday, but only because I did not anticipate getting packed out. However, with help, I was able to be on the road at 8ish and got to a hotel room in Jackson. It was so nice to be able to make it home yesterday, which I might not have been able to do if I’d packed down in the morning.

My only other SCA-like doings at Gulf Wars was judging in the A&S championship. I don’t actually know who won the championship, but I sure think one of the entries I judged could have. The person, I don’t know who yet, did a series of experiments making pigments for scrolls using period materials and techniques. It was fabulous re-creation archaeology. I don’t like giving perfect scores to any entrant, but it was truly amazing work and I was fascinated to read the process.

I’m hoping I can get in better shape that by next year I can add fighting back into my Gulf, without costing me too much shop time. We’ll see.

Overall, Drix’s booth has been an excellent place for me. I was able to work on the book, get a lot of traffic, and have all my needs covered. Miriam, Claudia, and Thyri are fun to work with. I do need to get a more mad tunic. Be afraid, be very afraid.

I came back to home to a busy week, added on to by the fact that my garage door broke while I was gone. I’ve a guy coming to fix it tomorrow, but I’ll just deal with my laundry in a day or so.

For now, though, it’s time to get back to Where Now the Rider.