Tag Archives: ChattaCon

Rob’s Update: Menhir Musings

Week 3 of 2019

Greetings all

I’m sitting at my booth at Menhir, an SCA event in Murfreesboro, TN as I’m winding my way to ChattaCon next weekend.

Those In Peril Cover
Those In Peril Cover

This has been a good week for me. I’ve managed to get a solid number of words written and fixed a number of plot issues in The Feeding of Sorrows. j

Also, the cover for Those In Peril, the alternate naval history anthology that includes my story “Far Better to Dare, was released. As you can see, the cover is really cool and I’m excited to be a part of the project. Also, “Far Better to Dare” is perhaps my favorite story that I’ve written so far.

This week I’ll be working on two projects. One, throwing more words at the page on The Feeding of Sorrows. I’ll be in a sort of writer’s retreat this week and anticipate major progress.

Second, I’ll be mostly alone, so I can read The Eyes of a Doll out loud without annoying anyone. It’s time to do a re-edit of it so I can get new stock for Gulf Wars.

With that, I better start focusing on customers passing by. Have a great week, everyone.

Current Playlist Song

I don’t have any music right now, nor did I listen to any music on the drive. Instead, I listened to Dune. It’s been over twenty years since I read it and some intriguing comments by Christopher Ruocchio on Twitter brought it to mind. I had an Audible credit, so…

One interesting note about Audible books is the detail to me. I have a tendency to read the gestalt of a paragraph instead of every word. I miss some details here and there, but it suits my need for speed. With audiobooks, that’s not an option, so it gives me an interesting perspective, especially on books as deep as Dune.

Quote of the Week

Dune is, of course, full of great quotes. This is one describes part of the challenge of a writer, I think.

“Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.”
Frank Herbert, Dune

News and Works in Progress

  • The Feeding of Sorrows (58,516)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AFS (2,556)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Cedar Sanderson, one of my favorite people out there. You can find her interview at: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1634

Today’s Weight: 384.2

2019 Word Count: 12,415

Shijuren Wiki: 879 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 518 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: 2018 AAR

Welcome to 2019. I’m excited about the upcoming year as I have a bunch of opportunities. Before I get to that, though, it’s time to look back at 2018 and give myself a grade.

I didn’t write enough. My goal was 365,000 published words. I included blog posts with that in part to ensure that I would update the blog consistently. My final total was 245,900. Essentially, I was one novel away from my goal.

I should have, indeed, finished The Feeding of Sorrows. That would have put me around 350k and I would not be too disappointed. However, I did not, nor did I finish None Call Me Mother.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

The good news is that next year I won’t have to move, nor will I start it in a cramped house. Furthermore, I won’t have to replace the flooring in seven rooms of my house. There are still major projects to do, but we’ve made huge progress. It is not unreasonable to admit to myself that I put most of my spoons in late 2018 into getting the house under control.

Next year, however, I can’t allow that to happen again. I need to publish 3 novels. My plan is to finish The Feeding of Sorrows by the end of January. I think I can, though I still have some 60k to go.

Then I will return to Shijuren with None Call Me Mother. I will release that in May. After that, I plan for a new Edward novel in December. When I started Where Now the Rider I had a mystery in mind but went a different direction. It’s time to finish that. Edward has a long way to go.

I don’t know how many short stories I’ll do next year, but I have one scheduled already. I also have several that I’ve been playing with for a while that need to get finished.

I’ll also continue to count my blog words. Again, I do that to ensure I update the blog consistently. The three regular columns will continue. I’ll do a creator interview aiming for Tuesday, a magazine review aiming for Wednesday, and my update for Friday. That regular schedule will start next week.

My goal for 2019 is 400,000. A nice even number.

My other professional goals were to improve both the Shijuren and Four Horsemen wiki. I did well, but like with my writing, not as much as I’d hoped. The Shijuren wiki is up-to-date, but needs to be improved and cleaned up.

As for the Four Horsemen Wiki, I had hoped to do more. It stands at 479 entries. My goal for 2019 is to get that up to 1500 or so. That’s about 20 entries per week, which I was doing for a while in 2018 before things got too busy.

I’ll continue to travel as much as I can fit in during 2019. I will be at ShadowCon in Memphis this weekend and ChattaCon at the end of the month. In March, I’m excited to be one of the featured panelists at FantaSci, which is the first Four Horsemen Universe convention. There’ll be lots more, including LibertyCon, which of course I’ll announce here and on my mailing list.

My personal goal in 2019 is much like what it was in 2018, improve my health. I started 2018 at 384.8. I ended it at 387.2. In other words, I held steady. Give all the upheaval of 2018, I call that a win.

Along the way I also spent much of the fall getting myself a good relationship with a local doctor. I haven’t had a standard doctor in well over a decade, and it’s nice to get that relationship going. It meant I had about fifteen different medical visits during the fall, including a colonoscopy.

My next step is to consistently exercise. My basic daily goal is to get 1000 and one. That’s 1000 words and one mile of walking. That’s the minimum I aim for each day. Most weekdays, I’ll hope to do more, lots more when it comes to writing, but it’s an easy to remember daily goal. If I do that, then at least the day hasn’t been a waste. Can’t waste days in this business.

Overall, my professional grade for 2018 is C-. I didn’t write enough, nor did I do enough of the background stuff. Personally, I would give myself a B+. I’m in better shape, both physically and mentally than I was in 2017. I’m in a comfortable home, with a great sweetie, and things are going well. My final grade for myself in 2018 is a B-. I can do more, but it wasn’t awful.

Now to go do more.

Have a great year everyone. May we all do more and smile doing it.

 

 

Rob’s Update: Only in Dying, Life

Week 4 of 2018

Greetings all

I have successfully made it back from ChattaCon. You can find my ChattaCon AAR here. The TL:DR version is that I really enjoy working with a number of writers and had lots of panels, but I don’t think I got enough value out of the cost of the trip. We’ll have to see about next year.

It’s good to get back. I don’t have any huge trips planned until Gulf Wars, though I am going to a few things. I’ll be at Clothier’s Seminar in a couple of weeks, then to Planet Comicon in KC in February.

Hopefully during that time we’ll see a change in the house situation. We’ll see. It cannot go on forever.

Still, I’m anticipating getting back into the rhythm of producing content and being a house-husband. I rather enjoy cooking, and I’ve hand fun playing around with new recipes.

One drawback of traveling is that it’s hard to eat well. I did my best at the Bird House, but overall I gained back about 5 pounds. I’m basically back where I started the year. Still, things could have been worse.

I’m adding two numbers below, just because I want to keep track of them. One is the number of articles on the Shijuren wiki, and the other is the number on the Four Horsemen wiki. I’m mostly doing this out of curiosity, but I know that Chris and Mark are anxious to see those numbers increase on the Four Horsemen wiki.

And speaking of that, after I send out this email, I’ll add some more entries. By the way, the Four Horsemen wiki is at: http://mercenaryguild.org/wiki/tiki-index.php.

Current Playlist Song: Saltarello Wascherschloss by Corvus Corax. Corvus Corax is one of those bands that plays medieval music with medieval instruments, but with an almost metal energy.

Quote of the Week

2018 has been rough for me, and I’m sad to see Ursula K. Le Guin passed. The Wizard of Earthsea was the book I latched onto after Lord of the Rings. I vividly remember finding it in my 6th grade library. I know it was 6th grade because I remember the library and it wasn’t the one I had in 5th nor the one I had in 7th.

Anyway, today’s quote comes from her, and I hope she’s enjoying its fruits.

“Only in silence the word, only in dark the light, only in dying life: bright the hawk’s flight on the empty sky.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea

News and Works in Progress

  • No short stories this week.
  • Brief Is My Flame (32437) There are actually some snippets flying around that will get added next week.

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

I mentioned last week that I’ll be in an anthology bringing back the Pussy Katnip characters. Here’s the first of four novels Brett Brooks has written so far in this universe: https://www.amazon.com/Red-Darkest-Color-Pussy-Katnip-ebook/dp/B01HJB3O1Y/

Today’s Weight: 389.0

Updated Word Count: 10704

Shijuren Wiki: 736 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 59 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
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

ChattaCon AAR

Greetings all

I made it back from ChattaCon a couple of hours ago. I worked to find a way to please three cats who demanded attention with only two hands. Then I took a nap with three cats on top of me. I’m finally able to get to this post under the watchful eye of the WW1 Flying Kitty.

Well, under the napping eye of the WW1 Flying Kitty, but she’ll be watchful the moment I move from the keyboard.

Anyway, I had a very good time at ChattaCon, if exhausting. I ended up on 8 panels, as I covered for Chris Kennedy on a couple. I like a busy schedule, and I enjoy the work, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t tired on Sunday.

My first panel was on Friday night and it was a throwback to my academic years. It was arranged by Dr. Valerie Hampton of the University of Florida, who wanted to talk about NeoMedievalism, both in an academic and literary context.

After that I went to Opening Ceremonies and then the LibertyCon Room Party. Had a great time. Did not go to bed early. Shockingly, I did not go to bed sober, either. Fun networking, though.

Saturday was the long day, as usual. It started with a panel on combining genres at 10am. It was actually a little different than most of the similar panels I’ve been on because the others had mixed things with horror. Also, there was a lot of discussion of how this works in screenplays, which was fascinating to me.

Then at 1pm I took Chris’s spot on the How Much Science Should a Science Fiction Writer Know. Ironically, the actual scientist couldn’t make it, and to a great extent, we just faked it, which means relying on questions from the audience. This is especially true since Chris was the intended moderator, which I did not know, so I had no questions planned. My answer to this is: “A writer should know enough to avoid knocking their readers out of the story because of obvious inaccuracies or using science for deus ex machina endings.”

At 2pm was my favorite panel. We discussed the Vikings in literature, flim, and art. Sam Flegal was the sponsor, and he is a fantastic creator of Norse-themed art. In fact, I picked up his illustrated Havamal this weekend.

At 4pm we did the Theogony Books expo. Chris is publishing a ton of books in 2018. There’ll be 21 more in the Four Horsemen Universe, meaning if I only average a book a month in the wiki, I’ll be nine books farther behind in a year. Oh, well. Speaking of which, there was a good response to the wiki, and I’m excited about where it’s going.

The next panel was called More Than Swords, where again I was taking Chris’s place, and again I didn’t know I was the moderator. Still, this was a great panel for me, because I would like to think I’m reasonably knowledgeable on medieval military topics, even when we’re talking military fantasy.

Finally, at 8pm, I did my last panel on Saturday. In it, we discussed historical fantasy, and some of the ways we can draw from history and put it into our books.

After that panel, I got dinner. I had tried to get dinner between the panels at 6 and 8, but the hotel restaurant was simply too slow. I wasn’t the only one. In fact, while the service at the hotel was amazingly good, actually, the actual logistics were awful. Lukewarm showers, slow times out with food, that sort of thing. Why are the expensive hotels so consistently bad at this sort of thing? Very irritating. Don’t ever stay at the Chattanoogan unless going there for a convention.

Anyway, then was my one chance to game. That didn’t go well, not simply because I lost. I was just too tired to focus, and there were too many distractions. Ah, well. Next time.

All I needed to do on Sunday morning was get checked out an eat breakfast. It was a bit of a worry, at first, because people had glommed on to the carts and the valets didn’t know where they were. However, they took my number, helped me with my stuff, and I even had a little time to relax before my last panel.

That panel discussed storytelling. One of the fascinating subjects was the topic of opening lines and why they worked. It isn’t easy, but somehow the writer needs to connect to the reader quickly. Fun, with a lot of going back and forth.

Overall, the schedule went really well, if busy. However, the con seemed lightly attended. The con organizers did a pretty good job, though a Chattanooga official (we think) enforced a $50 fee for the vendors. This is not something that any of the vendors had seen before, and the Dealer’s Room coordinator was just as surprised. It looks like it’s being investigated, though, so maybe it was just a mistake.

I had a great time networking, and was able to get some fun gifts, so the trip was worth the time. However, I’m going to have to find a way to reduce costs if I’m going to go back to ChattaCon. LibertyCon is a much more useful con, so I’ll consistently return to the area, but we’ll have to see what else is going on around that time next year.

 

ChattaCon Schedule

Here’s my schedule for ChattaCon. I’ll be arriving as early as the hotel will let me check in tomorrow, hopefully around noon.

Note: Edited to add a couple of panels

My session schedule is as follows:

6pm Friday in Kelly: NeoMedievalism (A discussion on the widespread interest in medieval themes in popular culture, especially computer games, films and television, and literature and why medieval themes continue to fascinate audiences in a modern, heavily technological world. )

7pm Friday in the Amphitheater: Opening Ceremonies

8pm Friday in Roberts: Meet the Pro’s Reception

10am Saturday in Bender: Cowboys and Aliens (Writers discuss blending two or more genres, such as westerns and science fiction, or fantasy and mystery.)

1pm Saturday in Kelly: How Much Science Should a Science Fiction Writer Know? (This panel will look at writing science into your science fiction. Both scientifically-minded and non-sciency people are welcome as we try to determine how much science does it take to make good science fiction.) Additional Panel

2pm Saturday in Bender: Vikings: An Exploration (Vikings are a staple in literature, film and art. But are they more than they seem? Or less than they are made out to be? Through history, poetry and mythology, our panelists will shine the spotlight on Viking life.)

4pm Saturday in Kelly: Theogony Books (It doesn’t matter what you like in a book, Chris Kennedy Publishing probably has something for you in 2018. From bestselling sci-fi to thrillers to epic fantasy, we’ve got it all! Come see what will be released in 2018… and maybe win a free book for the effort.)

The Theogony panel, by the way, is where I’ll be displaying the Four Horsemen Wiki.

6pm Saturday in Kelly: More Than Swords (While there are plenty of fantasy soldiers who wield a sword, ax, or bow, you can also find those where magic and technology are inexplicably linked. Let’s talk about how to integrate the war and the military into fantastical settings.) Additional Panel

8pm Saturday in Kelly: Exploring Historical Fantasy (Our home world and its history provide many venues for readers’ expanding taste in fantasy literature. What times and places have fantasy stories featured and which might be open game for new tales?)

1pm Sunday in Thompson: The Power of Storytelling (A frank discussion on storytelling and its importance, power and necessity to humanity.)

What a great schedule for me. Thanks very much to Lani Brooks for all of her work.

I hope to see a bunch of you at the panels, and I’ll be around the Con Suite and at room parties during the evening.

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

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