Tag Archives: Amanda Makepeace

Rob’s Ramblings: ChattaCon AAR

ChattaCon has come and gone for 2020. It was, as usual, a great time. I really enjoy the Chattanooga fan scene. It’s a bunch of smart, fun people and I’m glad I get to go there twice a year.

As usual, Lani gave me a nice busy schedule. Actually, it was brilliant this year because it was front-loaded, which I appreciate.

I’ll get to that in a moment, but one of the most important parts of cons these days is the Thursday before con networking. This time, I had a chance to sit down with Brian Cooksey and lay out some plans for getting the Shijuren RPG off the ground.

Side note: Brian will be a Special Guest next year at ChattaCon because of his game design skills. I’m honored he’s helping me out.

We spent a couple of hours agreeing upon overall goals, a general breakdown of responsibilities, and that sort of thing. I had given him some ideas I wanted to try and he gave me his opinion on them.

One thing I think is good about our partnership is that we have different perspectives. While I have a lot of gaming experience, it’s mostly in one tree, D&D/Pathfinder. Brian, on the other hand, knows a ton of game systems and he has a lot of different things to bring into the conversation.

Our basic philosophy is this: We want a game system that allows for a ton of flexibility and options in character design. I want players to play the character they want. At the same time, we want a game system that streamlines the process to minimize checking rules during the game because all the information a player needs is on his character sheet already.

I’ll expand on the game system plans as they get going. I’ll be posting process updates consistently both here and on the wiki when I get it updated.

Suffice to say I’m really excited as it starts to get off the ground. I’ve always wanted to be a part of an RPG and I think we can do some cool stuff here.

The actual convention started at 5pm on Friday with my Martin Koszta panel. As usual, people enjoyed it but I am more convinced now that I need to retire it for a few years. I’ll actually come back to it at some point, I’m sure, but I’ve presented it too much. What I really need to do is pick a new historical event, maybe run through bits and pieces of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle or go through Old English poetry.

That was at 5 on Friday. Immediately after was a world-building on the fly panel by Brian Cooksey that was a lot of fun. He structured it with 4-5 things that had to be in it and 4-5 things that had to *not* be in it, then let us riff off the combinations. That’s a process I might just try for the next Shijuren series as I come up with different characters and storylines.

At 8pm was a similar panel, and had I been thinking, I would have pulled from Brian’s.

Of course, had I been thinking, I would have noticed I was the listed moderator and been prepared to direct things. We muddled out some things, but it needed more direction and audience involvement. It could have been great, but I didn’t come prepared. Next time, I’ll fix that.

And yes, I had a 9pm Friday panel discussing how much violence and sex should we include in fantasy and SF. My answer is it depends on the story I’m trying to write. I tend to action/adventure stuff, so there’s lots of violence. I can change how graphic that is up and down the dial, but it tends toward violent.

On the other hand, I’ve been incorporating more romantic and sexual themes in my stuff. The Chaos of Well-Seeming Forms is a riff off Romeo and Juliet (actually the Finnsburh stuff, but same thing). As for how graphic my sexual content will be, it will depend on if it pushes the story. I don’t like either violence or sex that’s just put in just to have it.

Then was the LibertyCon party, and I hung out there until it closed. I bounced around for a bit, but I was tired and went to bed. A good day, all around, though really, really busy.

That business on Friday meant, however, that Saturday was fairly light. I had a panel at 1pm on weaving historical events and real things in speculative fiction.

I actually checked to see if I was the moderator and did a much better job at coming up with questions. I thought it went really well, though I will say having Terry Maggert as a panelist is fantastic. All you need to do is stick a quarter in him and he’ll create a ton of things to talk about.

I had my author signing/sales session from 4-5pm. It went really well, highlighted by a couple of regular readers showing up right away. They’re a joy to have as fans, smart, nice, and pleasant.

Then I spent much of the evening talking with Terry Maggert and Mel Todd about writing and processes. I learned a ton. Terry’s done well from writing and he’s definitely someone to pay attention to. Mel has studied things from a different tack, and she’s got quite a bit to teach me on the business side especially. It’s nice to have smart friends.

Then I went and hung out at parties and such-like things. One con regular hosts her own party, and I spent a goodly amount of time there. Then I went and watched the burlesque for a bit. Then I joined in on Kat’s birthday party.

I went to bed late, but it was worth it.

I was moving slowly on Sunday morning (shocking, I know), but I really enjoyed the panel on using Culture, Mythology, and Spirituality to fill out speculative fiction moderated by Amanda Makepeace.

Side note: Amanda is an amazing artist and will be Artist Guest of Honor at MidSouthCon opposite FantaSci and then ChattaCon 2021.

Anyway, I wondered where this panel might go, because it’s such a broad topic. In the end, what I think I got was a codification of something I already knew I did, but had never said aloud. I chose to use real world religions in Shijuren because I wanted to get the immediate evocative response from a Zeus or a Woden instead of a made-up deity who was some analogue. I use gods and goddesses from a bunch of cultures because I find them all fun and interesting.

Researching other cultures is one of the best parts of writing in Shijuren.

At that point, my responsibilities were done. I emptied my room, made my goodbyes, and was on the road by 11:30.

I thought about staying for some of the closing stuff, but after staying up late on Saturday and with the way the weather has been around KC of late, I decided I wanted to get on the road as quickly as I could.

At LibertyCon, I’ll be staying for the Dead Dog Party, and maybe even for a couple of days after. However, on this trip, it was time to be home. The trip went well, I didn’t even need a nap, and I made it home at 9ish.

As usual, today is sort of slow day, and I’m not doing much other than writing my AAR and puttering around on some detail work here and there. Nothing huge or stressful, nor anything I’ll beat myself up for not doing except the AAR, which really is best done today anyway when I’m still basking in a great weekend. All part of learning how to manage myself better.

Anyway, the short version. The trip went well. I achieved the goals I had in mind. I had fun.

I’ll be there in 2021.

Rob’s Update: No Quarter

Week 19 of 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current Playlist Song

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

Quote of the Week

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

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

– Led Zeppelin, “No Quarter”

News and Works in Progress

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

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

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

Today’s Weight: 392.2

Updated Word Count: 33108

Shijuren Wiki: 756 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 331 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Currently Available Works

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

Interview: Amanda Makepeace

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

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

War for Jupiter
War for Jupiter

What is your quest?

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

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

Amanda Makepeace Portrait
Amanda Makepeace Portrait

What is your favorite color?

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

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

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

Long List Anthology, Volume 3

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

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

Drusilla, Studio Cat Extraordinaire
Drusilla, Studio Cat Extraordinaire

Lightning Round

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Where can we find you?

Forest Dreams

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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