Tag Archives: A Lake Most Deep

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.

 

Rob’s Update: Happy New Year

Week of 8-14 January, 2017

Greetings all

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. This past holiday season was the busiest I’ve had in a long time. It knocked my off-schedule quite a bit, but life sometimes has to take precedence, and for both good and bad reasons I lived a lot of life in the past month.

But we’re back to the grind. I’m in the editing process for Where Now the Rider. It’s a more complex plot than the others I’ve written in some ways, and I’m enjoying twisting the threads together. I think you’ll like the story when it’s done. I’ve pushed back the release date until the end of February, both because of the holidays and to make it right.

Also, since I’m low on books, I did updates to both A Lake Most Deep and I Am a Wondrous Thing. In general, the updates are minor. Mostly the Sisyphean task of fixing typos that crept through the editing process. I did update the cover on A Lake Most Deep both to match the Wondrous Thing cover style, but also because I added the first few chapters of The Eyes of a Doll to the end. Once I get Where Now the Rider done I’ll do the same to The Eyes of a Doll.

Quote of the Week

I love this quote from Neil Gaiman. It’s the perfect one for the start of a new year.

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.”

– Neil Gaiman

News and Works in Progress

  • Editing Where Now the Rider
  • Slight updates to A Lake Most Deep in preparation for new stock, including small updates to the cover
  • Updated I Am a Wondrous Thing to fix some typos

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

  • 22 January: ChattaCon, Chattanooga, TN
  • 27-28 January: Market Day in Birka, Manchester, NH
  • 3-5 March: CoastCon, Biloxi, MS
  • 12-20 March: Gulf Wars, Lumberton, MS
  • 28-30 April: Planet Comicon, Kansas City, MO

Spotlight

Starting the new year with the spotlight on an interesting man who makes much of his living restoring old books. However, he also writes his own, which you can find at: https://www.amazon.com/James-Downey/e/B005EZ05JM

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

Weekly Update Archive

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

Pennsic 2016 AAR

On June 14 I left for SCA 50 Year. Exactly 2 months later, 61 days, I’ve returned from Pennsic. In the intervening time I have been home for 8 days. It’s so nice to be in *my* chair.

I took some extra time on the trip to do something important, and that was have a wonderful picnic with my apprentice Judith. Between my schedule and her health we haven’t had much time since she accepted a belt from me last November. We went to a park and watched ducks and talked about all sorts of things. She’s been working on lacework. Beautiful, intricate, and something I could never do. She’s amazing.

Also, by traveling slower I can stop and work along the way. If I schedule an extra day or two I really don’t suffer much loss of productivity.

It’s important to get to Pennsic early for me because of the bardic circle I sponsor on the first Monday at Pennsic. I can’t remember if it’s been five or six years since I decided to do it, but it’s been something I very much look forward to. Apparently, I’m not the only one, as this year the circle was huge. Lots of great performers. Lots of great people.  So many people I ran out of chairs. Many thanks to His Highness Atlantia for sending his people for spare benches. So many people I ran out of water. Many thanks to Her Excellency Belanna for loaning me a flat of water.

Really pleased so many people showed up, though, and I’ll have more of both next year.

On Tuesday the 2nd, we opened Drix’s booth. From Wednesday through Friday the 12th I spent most of my time there, arriving 10ish each day and leaving 6ish most days.

Overall, my time there was extremely productive, though I did not reach my sales goal. There is context, however, last year was Drix’s largest year ever and this was towards the slow end so I probably had much more traffic last year. Also, last year had significantly better weather, and book sales at events are affected dramatically by the weather.

I got a lot done when I wasn’t selling, though. I worked through what I’m discovering is the hardest part of writing books, the 5-20k word range. This part involves a lot of writing – cutting – rewriting – cutting – and so on. I’m taking the basic idea and forming the exact pattern with all of this rewriting. I think I have the structure for Where Now the Rider going.

I have to take this moment to thank Nicolaa. She reviewed The Eyes of a Doll in the Pennsic Independent. Last year, she gave me a great review on ALMD in the Independent right when I needed the emotional boost. I was pleased to receive another good review from her, and I had at least one person buy a book because of it. Thanks much, Nicolaa.

As traffic increased in the second week, I shifted to retrofitting  ALMD and TEOAD to include links to wiki entries for all the people, places, and weird stuff on the e-book versions. I completed ALMD and it is now live in updated form. I also made progress on TEOAD. The feedback I’ve had both from people who have already bought I Am a Wondrous Thing and those looking at it has been, without exception, positive. I’ve been really anxious to get these done, and editing wiki entries is great for higher traffic days as I can step away at a moment’s notice.

A side note. My new package through Verizon is expensive, but I now have a ton of data and the wifi hotspot feature allowed me fast wifi even at Pennsic. I’m excited about some of the possibilities that this freedom will give me.

As for Pennsic as Pennsic, I had a reasonably good time. I’m really glad I’ve lost some weight, as between my job, my responsibilities to help around the shop, and the things I contribute to the party, I was swamped. I did not have energy to go out and seek parties after working, but I did have the energy to hang out in the Royal Pavilion most nights. That’s perhaps my favorite part, anyway.

My big highlight of the war was the opportunity to herald TRMs Logan and Ylva into opening court. As we chatted beforehand, I made a whimsical comment, and Logan said, “I like that.” and so I heralded them into court as “Logan the well-beloved and Ylva the one we actually like!”

Prior to court, in the waiting for things to start, was another highlight when Ealdormere and Calontir sang songs back and forth at each other. Really good time, especially since Garraed made a cameo.

Wednesday through Friday was still extremely hard. I was in the shop for 14 hours on Wednesday because of Midnight Madness (We’re MAAAAADDDD!). I really like Midnight Madness, but it *is* exhausting. Thursday I tried to work, but barely had an hour and a half there. I came back in time to see Dongal beg the boon for Gavin, which is wonderful.

The Calontir Party is usually a lot of work for me, and this year was no exception. I cleaned the lamps, organized the incinetrons, and set up the bar. There’s no way I could have done all of this if I had not had help. Jack brought me lamps. Ian put them back. Tim Leatherhand helped move the heavy stuff. Emma, the baby huscarl, got the alcohol on Wednesday so I didn’t have to. But my big hero was Demetrios, who volunteered to do the town run to refill the propane bottles we use and get ice. This gave me the chance to get a nap before court.

I needed the nap as I was also TRM’s herald for court. Really happy to see Halvgrimr get created a Laurel in a drive-by ceremony. The best part, I have to admit, is watching Sibilla’s face the moment she realized Fionnuala was begging her boon to make her a Laurel. One of the highlights of being a herald is getting to know what is coming so you can know where and when to look.

After court was the Calontir party. We think it wasn’t as well-attended as some, and the potential for rain might have been a reason, but we still had a great time. Wohlgemut got there fairly early and, as usual, were awesome. We had a good singing circle later on. Really liked Gwen’s new drink, which consisted of lingenberry juice, vodka, and tonic water. I’m calling it the Ikea. Next time we need to garnish it with a meatball stuck on an Allen wrench.

Friday was tough. I was still tired from Wednesday, and I had gotten to bed at 3am after closing the party. I was hoping for a lot of traffic of people following up on their plan to buy books later in the war. However, I only got a few doing so. Ah, well.

I knew I was going to pack down on Saturday morning, so I went to bed fairly early. Unfortunately, I couldn’t sleep and barely got two hours of sleep before waking up 7ish. I was packed and ready to go by 10ish, but I was exhausted. I never once had the idea I would make the drive in one day, though I have done so in the past. I took a nap in Mansfield and I got to Terre Haute at 7:50, just in time to get a hotel so I could watch the Cowboys v. Rams pre-season game. Perfect timing.

Today, I drove the last 7 hours and now my car is completely unpacked. I’ve a ton to do to clean up after a wet, humid Pennsic, including a boatload of laundry, but progress is being made.

Overall, I would call Pennsic another moderate success. I’m definitely making progress in sales, but it’s still tough sledding. I can’t thank Drix enough for giving me the space.

Looking forward, WorldCon is this week. I’m hoping for some sales there, though I don’t anticipate much. I can still hope. After that, I’ve got a few events scheduled, but I’m going to plan out my schedule for the next year. I need to get west of the Rockies to both SCA events and cons, and I need to do so as cheaply as possible.

So I had a good time when I could, worked as much as I could, and got to see cool things happen to good people. I’ll take it.

 

 

Pre-Madness Post

Midnight Madness at Pennsic is almost upon us.

I must be MAD! because I love these kinds of sales. It will be a night of constantly being on stage and talking to people. Tomorrow, I’ll be exhausted, but hopefully with fewer books and more money.

Pennsic so far has been extremely productive. It’s hard to judge sales compared to last year, because I did such a poor job of tracking sales. My processes are getting better every time I do a show. I haven’t sold what I did last year, but I seem to recall sales picking up the last 2 days. Which will start soon.

Mostly, I’m writing this post to talk about Where Now the Rider and A Lake Most Deep. I’ve made good progress on Where Now the Rider, especially since I’ve gotten past the hard initial steps of a book. I like where it’s going, though I need to add more action. Six chapters in and only one murder? What am I thinking?

As we’ve gotten busier and writing has become more challenging, I’ve switched to adding the wiki links to A Lake Most Deep. It’s now complete and the new electronic version is available.

If you have already purchased A Lake Most Deep and want to be able to go to the wiki entries while you are reading the books, you can get the new version downloaded to your Kindle by asking Amazon to send it to you.

To contact via phone:
http://www.amazon.com/clicktocall

To contact via chat:
http://www.amazon.com/clicktochat

Be warned, however, that if you have Amazon update to the latest copy, it will erase your bookmarks and notes. This, by the way, is why Amazon will not force feed the updated version.

Remember, the only change I made is in the electronic version of A Lake Most Deep. This change adds links to the wiki at www.robhowell.org/shijuren the first time a name or place or new word is mentioned. If you will never use the wiki, don’t worry about the update.

In the coming week, I’ll have finished adding these links to The Eyes of a Doll.

I’m adding these links because the response to the links in the electronic version of I Am a Wondrous Thing has been overwhelmingly positive. These links will be standard for all of my e-books in Shijuren.

With that, it’s time to prepare for MADNESS!!!

Pushing Through

One of the things I’ve been trying to do is post more often. I doubt I’ll ever get to the point where I blog every day, or even every weekday, but I understand a blog that does not post regularly becomes irrelevant.

So, even though I don’t really have a topic to focus on, I’m going push through and blog anyway. I guess my best idea is to give you a preview of what you can see on the blog in July.

I’ll have a full, detailed preview of LibertyCon coming around Wednesday the 6th. I’ll have at least one post during the con, probably on Saturday the 9th as I talk about the book release party. Then, on the 12th or so, when I get home, I’ll write a full LibertyCon AAR.

One of my goals between LibertyCon and Pennsic is to lay out a general strategy and road map for my plans for Shijuren. These plans require enough time and enough readers to pay for me to live while I write, so if you’re interested in Shijuren and want to see all the secrets revealed, let people know about my stuff. This post will happen between the 12th and the 16th.

For now, you should know I’m not thinking small.

I also plan, between LibertyCon and Pennsic, to lay out my planned schedule for as far out in the future as makes sense. I’ll have a tentative list of appearances, and reached out to them. One spoiler, since I accidentally paid twice for LibertyCon this year, I’m already paid for LibertyCon 30 in 2017. You can expect a full post about this in the week between the 23rd and 30th.

I’ll also be looking at Patreon and Kickstarter stuff. Money is, not surprisingly, an issue for me, and I’ll be figuring out ways to use these two sources. One Kickstarter that will likely happen is one to pay for the creation of A Lake Most Deep on audiobook.

As a side note, my plan is to release everything in audiobook format eventually, but I need to figure out the process, which I will do as I’m doing the first one. In any case, I hope to have a full plan for that written and published in July.

For not having anything to really say, I sure said a lot. I have to say that this post may be a model for future posts, where I write a blog entry about what’s on tap for the next month. It will serve me as a checklist and provide a preview for you.

Thanks for letting me babble. I’m going to relax for a few days with friends and recharge at Trillium War. I’m sure I will see some of you there. For the rest, I’ll chat with you next week.