Tag Archives: ChattaCon

Rob’s Update: Recovering

Week of 5 – 12 February

Greetings all

Sorry for not getting an update out last week. On the trip to Birka I came down with an awful cold, plus food poisoning on the drive back, and the overall trip was 4000 miles in 12 days so it was exhausting enough as it was.

I’m really glad I went on the trip, though sales at Birka were not enough to justify attending again. However, I had a good time and might consider it next year simply because I enjoyed the trip. The swing from ChattaCon to Maryland to Birka and back was a good one, though I need to contemplate taking longer than two days on the drive back, especially since the weather was generally pretty good on the drive and I can’t always expect that to be the case.

This past week I’ve spent mostly in Wichita with my mom helping out after dad’s passing. Because of her preparation, it’s been fairly easy, but it’s been nice to spend time with her.

Somewhere along the way though, my mind finally kicked back into gear and I know have the missing piece to make Where Now the Rider the way I want it. Now, I just have to find the time to finish it, which will be in the next few weeks I hope, but if not, probably April because I have most of March on the road. However, because of missing deadlines with my editor, I don’t have a good schedule right now because I’m not her only client and I have lost my spot for the moment. We’ll deal with it, though, and as soon as I get that to her, I’ll be continuing on with the sequel to I Am a Wondrous Thing.

Quote of the Week
What an ending to the Super Bowl. First overtime in Super Bowl history, biggest collapse in the playoffs ever, and a fifth ring for Brady. Hard to argue he’s the best of all time, though I might still make a case for a few others.

It’s hard to be a Falcons fan right now, because that was an awful loss that will never stop hurting. In the category of bad losses, the other end of the spectrum also involved a team from Atlanta, though in this case Georgia Tech won. In 1916 they played Cumberland College. Here’s a tough question. Which is worse? Losing like the Falcons did, or getting beat 222-0 (yes, 222-0) like Cumberland did.

My favorite quote from the game comes from the halftime speech of Georgia Tech coach John Heisman (yes, that Heisman). Just to note, the score at halftime was 126-0.

“You’re doing all right, team, we’re ahead. But you just can’t tell what those Cumberland players have up their sleeves. They may spring a surprise. Be alert, men! Hit ’em clean, but hit ’em hard!”

– John Heisman

Yeah, some surprise, they held Georgia Tech to only 96 points in the second half.

News and Works in Progress

  • Where Now the Rider

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Been a slow week, I’ll have more next week

Upcoming Events

  • 3-5 March: CoastCon, Biloxi, MS
  • 12-20 March: Gulf Wars, Lumberton, MS
  • 28-30 April: Planet Comicon, Kansas City, MO

Spotlight

One of the pleasures of Birka was sharing a table with Dexter Herron, another self-published author. I got his book Shard’s Thugs, which is epic fantasy from the perspective of goblins. I enjoyed it quite a bit. You can find his work here at: https://www.amazon.com/Dexter-C.-Herron/e/B00BRX1HP6/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1486681553&sr=8-1

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

More about Dad

First, I’m an idiot. Dad was born in 1940, not 1941 as I typed in my earlier post. I’ve changed the title, but it’s one of those silly things where I typed it, stared at it because something seemed wrong, but could never figure out just what it was. Anyway, it’s now on Facebook and Twitter as both 1941 and 1940. 31 July 1940 is his correct birthdate. Sheesh. You’d think I’d know.

Anyway, I’m fascinated to read these two obituaries, one from Larksfield Place where he and mom have lived the past couple of years: http://kotn.org/John-Obit-Larksfield.pdf. It includes the official obituary in the newspaper. Hit me up sometime if you want to know the whole story just how Harry Bear’s logic class helped introduce mom and dad. At least the whole story as they have told me 🙂

The other was written by people at the Kansas State Library: http://kslib.info/Blog.aspx?IID=357#item. This one is especially interesting because it’s a view from people I don’t really know about my dad. Also, I knew my parents got various awards, but it was never something they talked about so I had no idea about these awards that are listed.

I knew about his precedent-shattering time working between Boeing and the State Library. Not only was he the first they extended for a second year, but clearly the first they extended for a third year. Not too shabby.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about my dad’s life is that not long after ending that collaboration between Boeing and the State Library, he suffered a stroke and lost much of his short-term memory. Basically, he never got to really appreciate his retirement. Never got to travel much more after that. Never got to try all the chicken fried steaks and coconut cream pies. Never got to finally rate restaurants by shirt stains.

He never stopped smiling, though, in part because his dad had been such a grump about losing some of his mental faculties, and in part because he was a good guy. Despite that, it was frustrating, because he’d ask the same question over and over because he could never remember the answer. Wasn’t his fault, but my mom had the patience of a saint to answer over and over.

And I never really got to argue with him after he retired. When I grew up, we’d argue over all sorts of things. In this case, argue like Monty Python’s Argument Clinic, where we’d have to defend a point, even if we didn’t really believe it.

It’s still a little surreal, in part because I’ve been out of the house for 30+ years. He’s not really been in my day-to-day life, so as I’m on this trip to ChattaCon and Birka, I hardly miss him as he wouldn’t have been involved anyway. However, as the times come where he would have been around, I suspect it’ll hit even harder. We’ll see.

 

Rob’s Update: Ghosts

Week of 22-28 January

Greetings all

As many of you read on my blog or my Facebook, my father passed away on Sunday. It was not unexpected, but it has filled this week with contemplation and remembrance.

I’ve been staying with my friend Talina the last few days as she lives almost exactly halfway between Chattanooga and Manchester in Frederick, Maryland. This happens to be an area filled with history, and wallowing in that history as added to the contemplation and remembrance. Today, for example, I worked for several hours at a pub that was originally established in 1783 as Hagan’s Tavern. Then, since it was such a beautiful day, I drove around and ended up at the Antietam battlefield.

The sunken road and Burnside’s Bridge are filled with ghosts. Both were especially bloody places, and it’s easy to see from the terrain why. Odd to walk on that ground. Dad and I often talked about all sorts of interesting places we each saw over the years.

Ghosts.

Quote of the Week
Tomorrow I’m off to New Hampshire. I may do a field trip during the day on Friday before setting up for Birka. We’ll see. There are ghosts up there too. In some ways, I’m one of them, ghosting through the miles.

Carry all those phantoms
Through bitter wind and stormy skies
From the desert to the mountain
From the lowest low to the highest high
Like a ghost rider
– Rush, Ghost Rider

News and Works in Progress
– I’ve overcome some of the challenges and made great progress on Where Now the Rider. Smooth sailing for a bit until I figure out the right order to arrange the climactic scenes.

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

  • 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

I had a great conversation with Melissa Gay at the LibertyCon party this weekend. I especially love her starscapes, but she is a great artist and you can find her work at: http://www.melissagay.com/

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

ChattaCon 2017 AAR

I attended ChattaCon as part of my trip to Birka. A very productive con, enhanced by getting to participate on a bunch of panels.

My first panel was on Friday at 5pm about what makes the well-rounded character. I believe a well-rounded character has to have a little bad to go with the good and a little good to go with the bad. Protagonists have to be appealing to the reader in some way, so that the reader wants them to succeed (compare how much people wanted Anakin Skywalker to succeed vs. Darth Vader). I also add to my characters by having them like, or not like, food or other normal things around them. The scratch of rough linen on their skin, for example. There weren’t a ton of people at this panel (nor at any panel, really) but those that were there said they got something from it.

That was my last official thing on Friday, though I believe that if I’m a professional on panels at a convention that it is my responsibility to be at opening ceremonies. I went, they were ceremonial, and then I went to the Meet the Pros ceremony, which again I feel is part of my responsibility. I had a good chat there with a number of people, including a couple that had come to the first panel.

More importantly, I got a few minutes with Mike Resnick, the Guest of Honor. One of my favorite books is Birthright: The Book of Man, which is a collection of short stories that are tied together to tell a future story of mankind. Brilliant stuff. More importantly right now, Resnick wants to promote new authors so I’ve a new venue to submit some short stories.

Guess I’d better write some.

Anyway, I spent the rest of the evening hanging out at the LibertyCon room party. LibertyCon has been very good to me, and I will attend and help as long as they’ll let me. Had great conversations with a bunch of people, and Melissa Gay and I had a great idea for a panel, which I’ll talk about more when things get firmed up.

I might have stayed up late on Friday night, so I was a little slow Saturday morning, but made it to my panel at 11am. Unfortunately, no one else did. It was my panel on Moana, humorously enough. Ah well.

At 4pm, I had my chance at the Author signing booth. In real terms, I only had 4-5 people chat with me, but in all honesty that was more than I expected. Every reader matters and that was a well-spent hour.

Immediately afterwards, I went into a panel talking about using non-European mythologies in fantasy. While I haven’t done this a ton yet, this is actually something I’ve been planning for a while. The Secret History of the Mongols and the Mahabharata are major parts of my world-building, even if I haven’t revealed those sections of the world yet. I enjoyed the panel quite a bit.

At 7pm was a panel on Gaslighting. This was an odd panel topic, in my mind, since to a certain extent at a meta level, my job is to gaslight the reader. Of course, we were talking about things like 1984. I moderated the panel, and I think we served a difficult topic well.

Given my activities the previous night and the fact that most of the socializing was at Track 29, which is a goodly distance from my hotel room, I ended up wandering about for a bit after dinner but not really doing much. I went to bed early and read.

On Sunday morning, my first panel was on Futuristic Visions of the Locked Room Mystery. This panel seemed a little disjointed to me, in part because I don’t know if it’s a topic that really needs an hour. Maybe a better topic would be a discussion of the traditional mystery types and using them in science fiction instead of limiting it to one particular type. Still, any panel with Stephanie Osborn on it is fun.

Right after that was to be a discussion of the best and worst science fiction films. Many thanks to Mark Wandrey for inviting me to join him. Unfortunately, I really don’t remember what we talked about because it was during this panel that I received mom’s call about dad passing.

Anyway, I had one more panel, the power of storytelling. It was a good discussion, and I lost myself in the topic, which was nice. We roamed far afield on our important aspects of storytelling, which included the kinds of challenges characters overcome and the importance of those challenges making characters grow. Again, Stephanie Osborn and I riffed off of each other. It was nice.

Louise Herring-Jones was at that panel, and she and I ended up having a great discussion afterwards about books and philosophies. Smart woman, lotta fun to talk to, look forward to chatting again in the future.

All in all it was a productive con. The attendance was low, but in all honesty, that wasn’t entirely a bad thing. I got to actually talk to a number of other professionals like A.R. Cook, Mark Wandrey, Dave Schroeder, Melissa Gay, Louise Herring-Jones, and a bunch of others. There was also time to spend with readers, and I enjoyed that most of all. A good time.

I’m hoping that I do well at Birka, because it would be nice to make this swing a normal trip. We’ll see this weekend.

In the meantime, I’ll be sitting in bars in Frederick, MD working. Maybe do some sight-seeing afterwards.

Rob’s Update: Loved and Lost

Week of 15-21 January

Greetings all

  • Tomorrow I’ll be heading out towards Chattanooga for ChattaCon. Here’s my schedule for the weekend. As you can, it’s an interesting set of panels. Going to be a lot of fun.
  • Friday 5pm in Finley
    Writer’s Workshop – What Gives Characters Depth? Writing the well-rounded character.
  • Saturday 11am in Classroom B
    Special Interest- Is “Moana” Disney’s Lord of the Rings?
  • Saturday 4pm in the Dealer Lobby
    Author Meet and Sign
  • Saturday 5pm in Finley
    No Camelot’s, Shires or Hogwarts Here!
  • Saturday 7pm in Classroom B
    Gaslighting in the 21st Century
  • Sunday 10am in Finley
    Special Interest – Futuristic Variations on the Locked Room Mystery
  • Sunday 1pm in Classroom B
    Special Interest Panel – The Power of Storytelling

Quote of the Week

Well, this past Sunday was a frustrating day for me. If you didn’t watch the game, let me tell you that the Cowboys-Packers game was one that will be shown over and over. It’s an instant classic. Sadly, the Packers won, basically because Aaron Rodgers is playing quarterback as well as anyone ever has right now. I’m proud of the Cowboys though, they got down 21-3 early but clawed their way back into it and I’m convinced that if the game had gone into overtime they would have won it. It was not to be. I was crushed, as I always am when the Cowboys are out of contention for the Super Bowl.

Some friends of mine who don’t get sports ask my why I get so invested in sports. Each season is so likely to end in sadness, after all. In the NFL, only 1 of 32 teams lifts the Lombardi Trophy each year. That’s 3.125% chance each year. The Cowboys went into the playoffs as the best team in the NFC and had less than a 25% chance of winning it all according to Football Outsiders. And they were a great team. Sports is filled with heartache.

But when your team wins, as I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a number of times in my life, there’s a feeling that you just can’t describe. I often trot out Wallace Stevens “death is the mother of beauty” quote when I’m talking about character lifespan. In a sense, every year’s disappointment makes those years when one of your teams wins it all priceless.

Though usually used for love and romantic relationships, this week’s quote is just as valid for a sports fan. It is the answer to those who wonder.

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

– Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “In Memoriam A.H.H.”

News and Works in Progress

Where Now the Rider is getting there. I’m fighting some balancing and timing questions, as I’m trying to weave a couple of different threads. I’m pushing my writing skills in the sense that this is a more complex puzzle than either of the ones in A Lake Most Deep and The Eyes of a Doll and I want to get it right.

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

One of the people I get to sit on panels this weekend is Stephanie Osborn. She’s a real life rocket scientist who is also an author. I especially enjoy her Sherlock Holmes Misplaced Detective series. You can find her work at:

https://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Osborn/e/B0026DM46M/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1484720511&sr=8-2

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

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels
www.robhowell.org

ChattaCon AAR

I had debated about attending ChattaCon for a couple of reasons.

One, I sent in a couple of emails and they fell through the cracks, in part because they had some technical issues. Stuff happens. Still, I wasn’t sure how much exposure and value I would get from the con.

Two, I was pounding on the next novel in all  of January and I was tired. The next one is much more complex and was going slower. Frankly, I was just tired.

Nevertheless, I decided to go to the con if only to get out on the road and re-energize, as driving often does for me. In the end, though, I’m really glad I did go as the con was very productive.

I want to start by thanking Larry Correia for being so gracious and patient with questions not just from me but from anyone who asked him. He knows a ton about the process and is willing to share it with anyone who is interested. I had met him briefly in the Writer’s Seminar at GenCon 2014, but since ChattaCon is much smaller I was able to pick his brain more thoroughly. I look forward to chatting with him again at LibertyCon and other events.

I also got very lucky and ran into William Dietz as he was going to the same room party as I and we had a long chat and stroll on the way. Very nice man with, again, lots of knowledge to learn from.

My biggest problem right now is that no one knows who I am and I made a few nice new contacts that I think will really be helpful in the long run. I had met Uncle Timmy at LibertyCon last year, but only briefly. He has a large following that he might help me penetrate.

He also helped me get with the programming director of LibertyCon and I think I’ll be very active on panels and such there. Probably a reading. That’s a little terrifying, but another step on the path.

Also, at the end of the con, Mark Wandrey and I chatted. I had met Mark before, I think at GenCon 2014, and he is only slightly ahead of me in the independent author career path. I think he and I can help each other quite a bit, and we’re planning on sharing a dealer’s booth at WorldCon.

The last point is a bit embarrassing. I talked with Toni Weisskopf some, and she now knows who I am, at least vagely. She knows I’m an independent author, but really not much more. I offered to give her copies of my books, but chickened out when she asked if it was a submission.

Weird. I had no fear to give her my books as just something to read. But giving them as a submission to Baen? Terrifying. Bah. Sometimes I’m an idiot. Do I think I’m a good enough writer for Baen? Yes. Do I think I’m there now? I don’t know. I guess not knowing, at least right now, is better but I need to get over that fear.

One fear I lost was my worthiness to be on panels. I realized in several that I had something important and relevant to add based on my experiences so far. I don’t know everything, but I do know some things.

To sum up, ChattaCon was a great time. I now know the system and anticipate participating on panels next year. I got to meet some new people, expand some previous relationships, and make some contacts. Totally worth the drive.

Anyway, time to get back to work. Have a great day, people.

 

ChattaCon

I am here at ChattaCon and I’m quite pleased so far. I was unsure how things would go since I received no communication back from emails, but apparently there were server issues. Still a problem, but stuff happens.

I’ll give a complete report about how things go next week.

For now, I want to update my plans. I had intended, even promised, to have the next novel to my editor this week. I, in fact, got a draft to her, but only about half-done. This is a much more complex book, with a much larger structure and many different threads, and is the start of a trilogy.

I like much of what I have written. There characters are coming along. The story is growing and working. My skill at weaving the threads is lacking, though, and it’s not in a form that works yet. I’m setting it down to do some foundational work while Kellie takes a look at what I’ve done so far to give me her opinions and suggestions.

This means I’m only going to publish two books this year, and I had only planned on two next year. I don’t know if the stories will wait, though, and I’m going to start writing some short stories in Shijuren to bridge the gap and also start building up a Wiki, which I will publish fairly soon. It will be incomplete, but that is the nature of Wikis 🙂

I know I need to get more things published, but I also know that the work has to be good.

For now, it’s time to get back to ChattaCon.