Tag Archives: Chris Kennedy

Interview: J.R. Handley

Chances are, if you like military science fiction, you might have run into J.R. Handley on Facebook. He has science fiction podcast and serves as an admin on the Galaxy’s Edge fansite.  He’s a hard worker who adds a ton to the MilSF community. And, oh yeah, he’s a good writer as well.

Interview: J.R. Handley

What is your quest?

I strive to tell compelling science fiction stories that are fun escapism from the drudgeries of the modern world. I love space opera and military science fiction, which are the two spaces where I excise my demons and weave them into the tapestry of my futuristic universe. I let my real-world experiences from serving 8.5 years in the Army, with two tours in Iraq, flavor the action and the soldiers I write about. Hopefully I succeed in creating warriors worthy of the genre that I love to read.

Growing up I devoured science fiction from Orson Scott Card and the plethora of books written in the Star Wars Universe. I read those books clear up through the end of high school, only taking a break from reading for fun when I was in college and then in Iraq. When I rediscovered reading, I found authors like Chris Kennedy (The Theogony Universe), Tim C. Taylor (Human Legion Series), Terry Mixon (Empire of Bones Series), Richard Fox (The Ember War Series) and the deadly duo of Anspach and Cole (The Galaxy’s Edge Series). All of those styles effect the story teller I’ve become, which I hope to bring to the Four Horsemen Universe I enjoy reading.

What is your favorite color?

My favorite color? I’m color blind so I don’t really have a favorite. I only see the basic primary colors, but I guess I like blue and green. Okay, my former fire team would skewer me alive if I didn’t say Infantry Blue!

As for what I like in my creations, I strive to balance the details that make the story come alive with the fast pace expected from the genres where I play. I don’t want to tell the readers about the far-flung battlefields, I want them to BE there with my characters. I would love for them to be able to envision the story, like a movie playing in their heads. One of the biggest tricks I use for my battlefields, since you’re looking for advice for other creators… I make a sand table of the space where the action happens. It lets me see the battlefield in 3D and plot realistic strategies for the situation at hand. Plus, it’s fun playing with Legos and calling it “work.” Unless my wife is reading this, then it is TOTALLY work!

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

An unladen paint brush flies at the speed of sound, divided by pie and multiplied by the weight of a porcupine on Mars. Oh, and make sure you don’t mix in the metric system or you’ll create a space-time singularity that will destroy the fabric of the universe!

Now, on a more serious note… I swear I can be serious! My biggest challenges revolve around overcoming the traumatic brain injury I suffered in Iraq. Sometimes I get my words mixed up, and my minions have to go back and help me figure out what I really meant. Most of the time it’s pretty easy sometimes involves rewriting entire sections because the gibberish was indecipherable. I can get confused very easily and have a finite number of cognitively viable hours in the day, which cuts into my writing time. Overall, I do it all again and still enjoy telling the stories even if I’m slower than molasses. It just means I have to get creative as I fight through the Amazon churn model that is in vogue.

The hardest part to answer here was regarding some of my failures. Even when I have stories rejected by anthologies, I don’t consider them failures. I write as therapy, as a way to process what happened overseas. I also write to keep exercising my gray matter so I can fend off the inevitable dementia that is often associated with dramatic brain injuries. Every day I write something, I call it a win. Most recent failure, or rejection, was from the previous 4HU anthology. I got so distracted by the shiny idea, that I lost sight of the universe canon and the story was rejected. Again, this wasn’t a failure because I can pull out anything that is proprietary to the universe and still salvage the story. Failure is only a thing if you don’t learn from it, or you have a warped view on things. I try to take everything in stride, avoid dwelling on the negative, and appreciate that I’ve got another day above the dirt. Losing so many friends definitely alters your perspective, and I try to honor their sacrifice by not giving up.

Since we focused on the negative, well on failure anyway, I want to take a second to talk about the good things. I truly feel that the story and the upcoming anthology is one of the best I’ve ever written. I’ve read all of the previous anthologies, and many of the main storyline books, and wanted to bring something a little different to the universe. I tried to honor the warrior, by remembering why they fight with this submission. I really hope that comes across and would love for your feedback once you’ve read it!

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

The Holy Hand Grenade is all knowing, it comforts us when we are hurting and smites our foes with impunity! Who doesn’t worship the Holy Hand Grenade? Point me at the blasphemous soul and we will smite them together!

It sounds like what you’re really asking for are my tricks of the trade, and the biggest one I use I’ve previously mentioned. I rely heavily on sand tables to block out my action scenes, and I feel like that’s where I do my best work. I can’t really pinpoint one specific success that I’m proud of, other than to say that my latest work is always my favorite and I hope that I’m growing at every step along the way. The two stories I’m most proud of are the one in the upcoming 4HU anthology titled “CASPers Widow” and one written in my Sleeping Legion Series titled “No Marine Left Behind.” I feel like they are some of my best published work, and I hope the readers agree.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Kermit the Frog
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Coffee
  • Favorite Sports Team? Yay sports ball!!  Wait, I don’t have one… I prefer watching the USA Rugby Team or just reading a good book.
  • Cake or Pie? Coffee
  • Lime or Lemon? Coffee
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  French Dip with those ridged chips
  • Wet or Dry? Wet… cause COFFEE
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard OfJoey and Rory, Dropkick Murphy’s or maybe Dar Williams? I’d guess that these are pretty main stream though.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Whichever one fills my glass the quickest!
  • Favorite Superhero? GI Joe or Captain America!
  • Steak Temperature? On my plate!
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Wait, did they have to be back then? Let me run to my local museum and get the historians to answer that one for me!
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Yes, as long as no deserts are involved. I’ve had my fill of deserts! For more serious answer though, I prefer spring or fall because the weather is in the Goldilocks zone.
  • Favorite PetOur benevolent leader, Lord Cthulhu.
  • Best Game Ever? Chess, though DnD is pretty fun as well. But that might just be because I haven’t played the 4HU game that is coming out soon!!
  • Coffee or Tea? Hot coffee or sweet iced tea, the ying to my yang! Clearly the secrets of an awesome life
  • Sci-Fi or FantasyD, All of the Above!

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

Well, I can tell you that the secret of the universe is 42, but you didn’t ask me that!  Or that everyone knows the Devil invented pineapple pizzas, but you didn’t ask that either! Oh, and we can all agree in the heathen blasphemous nature of unsweetened iced tea!!  What about the proper temperature one should drink beer?  I swear it should be properly chilled, but heathen Brits like Tim C. Taylor drink it warm.

Rob’s Answer: You are correct. Beer must be *properly* chilled. That temperature is different for various types of beers. Lagers, especially light lagers, are best really cold. Real Ales, especially cask-pulled ales, are usually better at about 55 degrees. If they’re too cold, you lose much of the flavor.

Stouts like Guinness are perfect examples of this. Cold Guinness is rather bland. Let it warm to about 50, and suddenly it’s rich and vibrant. So, yes. Chill your beer properly.

And one last thing. If you like beer and you go across the pond, look up CAMRA to help you find some absolute treasures. I’m sure Tim C. Taylor would agree.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

You can find my books on Amazon or hear my insanity over at the Sci-Fi Shenanigans Podcast. My website is an option too, I post a lot of book reviews there! Finally, we can chat on Facebook!

And where can we find you?

I’ll be attending the 20 Books to 50K author conference in Vegas in the first week in November 2018! Not sure about any other scheduled dates, since my life is so crazy at the moment. If any event comes up, I’ll be sure to post it on my website.

Do you have a creator biography?

J.R. Handley is a pseudonym for a husband and wife writing team. He is a veteran infantry sergeant with the 101st Airborne Division and the 28th Infantry Division. She is the kind of crazy that interprets his insanity into cogent English. He writes the sci-fi while she proofreads it.  The sergeant is a two-time combat veteran of the late unpleasantness in Mesopotamia where he was wounded, likely doing something stupid. He started writing military science fiction as part of a therapy program suggested by his doctor and hopes to entertain you while he attempts to excise his demons through these creative endeavors. In addition to being just another dysfunctional veteran, he is a stay at home wife, avid reader and all-around nerd.  Luckily for him, his Queen joins him in his fandom nerdalitry.

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not? 

Clearly, you need to ask the Religion Question; Star Wars, Star Trek or Firefly!  The right answer is Star Wars, pre-Disney, of course! And then Firefly, though the show was murdered prematurely by the Evil Overlords over at Fox.


Thanks to J.R. for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you 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.

Finally, 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.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

Interview: Kevin Ikenberry

If you’re a fan of the Four Horsemen Universe, and I bet many of you are, then you’ve had the pleasure of reading Kevin Ikenberry’s contributions to that universe. He’s a fantastic writer. He’s also a fun guy to chat with at conventions.

Interview: Kevin Ikenberry
Kevin Ikenberry
Kevin Ikenberry

What is your quest?

To seek the…wait a minute. I’ve seen this movie! The whole writing thing came around fairly late in life for me. I’d been told I was a good writer in high school and college, but I never really did anything serious (trying to get published) until 2009. I’ve always been drawn to science fiction – as a young Army officer two different books found their way into my hands: The Forever War by Joe Haldeman and Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein. They were two huge influences on me and I eagerly passed them on to cadets when I had the opportunity to teach ROTC about ten years ago. When I started writing, I wanted to write stories about human beings finding their place in the universe and fighting for the right to survive and explore. I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to do that with both The Protocol War series and especially the Peacemaker books in the Four Horsemen Universe. Working with Chris Kennedy, Mark Wandrey, Kacey Ezell, and Marisa Wolf has been an amazing experience and I’m honored to be a core author for the series.

What is your favorite color?

The thing that changed my writing career, in a very literal sense, was learning the key between story structure and character development. There are dozens of story structures out there, some following classic approaches like The Hero’s Journey and others following screenwriting theory (Save The Cat, My Story Can Beat Up Your Story). Those structures are great, but without very clearly defined characters and their goals, a structure can only get you so far. The difference in understanding that relationship and applying some screenwriting theory was that the very first book I ever wrote (now published as Runs In The Family) took me a year and a half to write and it was a mess. The second book I wrote (my debut novel Sleeper Protocol) took me seven weeks. Since then, I’ve been able to keep my first draft timeline to around three months from start to finish. It’s a tremendous process and something I teach often at writing conferences.

Granted, I do a lot of pre-writing (plotting, scheming, etc.) but when it’s time to sit down and write a book, I have a solid idea of where everything is going and that saves time and mental gymnastics in the middle of a manuscript when, as a writer, I think everything sucks. That light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a train and when I get the draft out of my head I can do the next part – fix it. That’s much easier with a detailed plan.

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

The biggest challenge I faced as a starting writer was staying positive. Rejections are part and parcel of this business, and there were several times that I wrote stories that were good stories in the eyes of my initial readers, contest judges, and my critique partners only to be rejected. The frustration wasn’t that I’d been rejected, there was frustration in understanding that just because one editor/magazine/market didn’t like the story didn’t mean it wouldn’t sell elsewhere. The first time that happened, I walked around in disbelief for a few hours. Now, a rejection doesn’t bother me. I package the story up, file it away in my virtual footlocker, and move on to the next project. One day, that story will find a home.

From a creative failure standpoint, I very stupidly tried to self-publish Runs In The Family in 2013 when neither the manuscript, nor myself, was ready. I had oodles of problems with creating the correct file types and I didn’t do the due diligence to really make that book what it should have been. It lasted online maybe a week before I took it down, which proved to be the best thing for it. It was picked up by a small press called Strigidae Publishing and when it released in 2016, it went gangbusters for eight months until the small press closed unexpectedly. Fortunately, Chris Kennedy’s Theogony Publishing Imprint picked up the book and re-released it in 2018 where it has continued to do well and even is now available on the Baen Book’s website. What I learned was that this publishing thing takes a team. I have a team of readers now. I have a website team. I have a marketing team. I have a creative team. I have a team that goes out for beers or whiskey. Don’t get me wrong, these are the same folks in many cases. I learned that we creators have to stick together. That’s another huge benefit of working in the Four Horsemen Universe. I have a band of brothers and sisters there that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

Writing in someone else’s universe is pretty challenging. I had the chance to write some licensed short fiction in the G.I.JOE: A Real American Hero universe on Kindle Worlds before it shuttered this year, and that was the first time I stepped into someone else’s playground. I found it challenging and a lot of fun. Little did I know that it prepared me to take the Four Horsemen Universe “bible” and write a short story for the anthology A Fistful of Credits that led to the Peacemaker novels. Granted, I don’t always get the details right and Mark/Chris edit and chastise me endlessly, but I’ve enjoyed getting to play in the 4HU and feel like I’ve made a solid impact on the overall storyline with Jessica’s story. I recently wrote a modern-day thriller with my friend Nick Thacker in his universe, too which was a fantastic learning experience.

Aside from my books, I’m most proud of three short stories in three different anthologies because they were three unique experiences. In Extreme Planets, I wrote a story called “Maelstrom” in two days over my lunch hour because I had an old idea (guy jumping into a tornado in one of those “flying squirrel” suits) merge with the concept of exploring an exoplanet. For the anthology Dragon Writers, I took the theme to an extreme and did a re-telling of Puff The Magic Dragon where Puff was an exospheric EB-77 Dragon bomber with a callsign of Puff Zero Alpha. I didn’t think “Salvation, On Painted Wings” had a chance until the editor called. Finally, for the recent anthology Avatar Dreams, I was sitting with my friend and mentor Kevin J. Anderson when he looked at me and said he needed a story in two weeks. Could I do it? I gave him “That Others May Live” in a week and he loved it. All my crazy ideas eventually come to fruition and some push the boundaries – and I know now that I can do them quickly if I need to – that’s a huge confidence boost.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Kermit
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy. Extra Crunchy if you please.
  • Favorite Sports Team? College: Mississippi State (Rob’s Note: Moe Cowbell!!!!) / Professional: I still pull for the Cubs and the Braves – my mom would be proud.
  • Cake or Pie? Pie
  • Lime or Lemon? Limon? Wasn’t that a thing in the 80s?
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Guacamole
  • Wet or Dry? Wet
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Jeremy Kay
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Whiskey – I’m from Tennessee, you know.
  • Favorite Superhero? Iron Man
  • Steak Temperature? Medium Rare
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? CHiPs, Dukes of Hazzard, Emergency
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall – I miss fall in East Tennessee particularly.
  • Favorite Pet?  My dog when I was growing up. We named him Shandy. He was an American Spitz that never met a dog he didn’t know he could whoop. I miss that feisty little bastard.
  • Best Game Ever? Cards Against Humanity. I’ve never made it through a game without my stomach hurting from laughing. I’m fairly certain there’s a handbasket with my name on it.
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee, with a touch of creamer. No sugar.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Science Fiction

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

What technique (process or practice) have you learned that has influence your own writing the most, and why?

Rob’s Answer: Hmmm. One that you mentioned above is important, and that’s the creation of a team. The analogy I use is a race car driver. At the end of the race, the winner gets photos, prizes, and all that sort of thing. However, he doesn’t get there without good mechanics, pit crew, and all the people involved in a race. My team is good, and getting better all the time.

Another important thing is keeping track of what’s working and what’s not. I often say, “There’s one true way of writing and it’s what gets words on the page.” If you are not productive at some point, change something. Anything. Your music. Your chair. Where you write at. For me, that will increase my productivity and then I have to change it up. Writers will always have slow periods, I think. Just keep plugging away.

One specific technique that I’ve added to my process is to read it out loud from a printed copy. Toni Weisskopf said in a panel once that editing from printed copies is much more effective than on the screen and she had studies to prove it, as well of course as experience at Baen. I also find that if I read something out loud the clumsy writing jumps at me because it will not roll off the tongue. It will feel clunky. Yes, that’s tedious. It took me four 12-plus hour days to do this with Brief Is My Flame, yet it was dramatically better because of it.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

My website is www.kevinikenberry.com. We’re headed for a major site overhaul soon, maybe in time for SphinxCon, but there’s information there on how to sign up for my reader’s group – The Reaction Squad – and a bunch of other stuff. There will be goodies (a free short story namely) when the new site goes live.

I’m on Facebook with an author page and my Twitter handle is @TheWriterIke. That’s about it for social media right now.

And where can we find you?

  • MileHiCon 50 (October, 2018)
  • SphinxCon (November, 2018)
  • Superstars Writing Seminar (February, 2019)
  • PensaCon (February, 2019)
  • FantaSci (March, 2019)
  • Phoenix Fan Fusion (May, 2019)
  • LibertyCon 31 (May, 2019)
  • DragonCon (August, 2019)

Do you have a creator biography?

Kevin Ikenberry is a life-long space geek and retired Army officer.  A former manager of the world-renowned U.S. Space Camp program and a space operations officer, Kevin has a broad background in space and space science education.  His 2016 debut science fiction novel Sleeper Protocol was a Finalist for the Colorado Book Award and was heralded as “an emotionally powerful debut” by Publisher’s Weekly. Kevin is the author of the military science novels Runs In The Family, Vendetta Protocol, Peacemaker, Honor The Threat, and Stand Or Fall. He is an Active Member of SFWA, International Thriller Writers, and an alumnus of the Superstars Writing Seminar.

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not? 

You should have asked what’s next for me. Well, at DragonCon we announced that I’m writing a Tales of the Four Horsemen Universe book with my good friend and amazing author Quincy J. Allen. The novel will follow an Oogar Peacemaker named Hr’ent (from the pages of STAND OR FALL) and should be out in mid-late 2019. It’s going to be a hell of a ride!


Thanks to Kevin for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you 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.

Finally, 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.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

Interview: Doug Dandridge (Rerun)

Doug Dandridge is one of the great independent writers out there. He’s done really well in part because he puts out a ton of good material. My personal favor is his Exodus: Empires at War series, but he has over thirty published titles, including two other series, Refuge techno-fantasy and The Deep Dark Well trilogy. Now he’s started Kinship Wars, a traditionally published series. Let’s just say I’ve visited his Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/Doug-Dandridge/e/B006S69CTU/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1522973584&sr=1-2-ent a number of times to get his books.

Exodus: Empires at War, Book 1 Cover

And I’m not the only one. According to his bio, “(h)e has amassed over 5,000 reviews across his books on Amazon, with a 4.6 star average. 5,000 reviews! And about that same number on Goodreads. I am learning just how hard it is to get a single review out of readers, so that’s even more amazing to me than the hundreds of thousands of books he’s sold.

Clearly, he knows both how to write and how to market online, so I was excited when he agreed to answer my questions.

Doug Dandridge

What is your quest? I like to craft technically sound science fiction (and fantasy as well) in an interesting and well thought out setting, with strong characters. Sometimes I actually succeed. I like the physics, chemistry, biology to stay as close to accurate as possible. Which doesn’t mean I don’t make up whimsical of utterly fantastic elements, but I see no need to step on real world principles when not necessary. My major influences include Robert Heinlein, Poul Anderson, David Weber, Robert E Howard, Jim Butcher, R A Salvatore and Larry Niven. I get a little bit from each one and possibly blend them together into something of my own. It seems to work, as I was able to not only quit my day job, but make a very good living at it.

What is your favorite color? Like Jim Butcher I start off with a map most of the time. I do a lot of research. Even in fantasy, I look up a lot of information, put a lot of it on paper. I world build to an extreme, probably more than I need to, but then, when I have a series, I just need to add onto the already detailed world. And I draw a lot of things out on graph paper, which allows even a poor artist like myself to visualize my settings. Spaceships, star systems, castles, even the look of dragons. All goes down on paper. And when I’m creating a star system I like to use programs to look over the configurations of planets and make sure it all works (wouldn’t do to have your inhabited planet go spiraling into the star). Probably more than I need to, but I read the horror stories of people finding fault with the science in other works. I even use Nukemap to make sure my things that go boom have an accurate damage radius.

Doug Dandridge with Helicopter

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush? I wrote a series called Refuge, which actually started off really well. Both of the first books sold over 5,000 copies. They mixed modern technology with magic, with people from Earth crossing over to another dimension against their will and having to fight wizards, dragons and things that go smack in the night. With tanks, attack helicopters and a couple of tactical nukes. Due to the physical and magical laws of the planet, the technology would only last for a short period of time, and the humans had to use it or lose it. So by book three they had lost it, and I had lost my readership. Turned out that the majority of people who bought the first two books loved the idea of technology versus magic, so book three sold just over two thousand copies, while four barely made it over a thousand. I’ve tried to salvage the series with book five, resorting to magic imbued steam tech. But I’m afraid once you lose readers you’ve lost them for good, at least for that series. The lesson? When something is working, don’t make radical changes.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade? I am really proud of the Exodus: Empires at War series and the spinoff, Exodus: Machine War. This is the universe that turned me into an independent success. Of the 240,000 odd books I have sold, over 200,000 of them are in these series. They have been well received, and I have collected a lot of fans from all over the world from these books. I feel that I write battle scenes really well (see R A Salvatore and Jim Butcher above), and I’m also good at putting in technical details without overwhelming people with info dumps. The Exodus series is nearing its end, but I will start another side series, going back in time to the origins of my human Empire.

Lightning Round

  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy.

    Five by Five Cover
  • Favorite Sports Team? Florida State University, because I went there and I live in Tallahassee. Any of the teams, not just football. I go to women’s soccer, both basketballs, softball, volleyball, even sometimes baseball.
  • Cake or Pie? Pie, because cake is too rich.
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime, because lemon is just too sour.
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Home-made French Onion dip. None of that weak store made stuff. The Lipton’s Onion Soup with sour cream.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? A German Jazz guitarist named Vogel Kreigel. He played in a little hotel in North Germany back in the late 1970s. One of the best jazz guitarists in the world at that time.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? I used to love Wild Turkey 101. Haven’t had a drink, for health reasons, in fourteen years.
  • Favorite Superhero? Spiderman. I’ve been a Spidey freak since I was five years old, and I bought the issue of Amazing Stories that featured the webhead.
  • Steak Temperature? Medium rare.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Man, go back to the sixties and I might have something. The seventies did nothing for me, and I spent half of them in the Army.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall, love the crispy temps. Best time for going to football and soccer.
  • Favorite Pet?  (provide pictures if you want) I had a ginger cat years ago named Beau who was the smartest pet I have ever had (and I’ve had an Australian Shepard). He died way too young at age nine.
  • Best Game Ever? Video Game? Fallout New Vegas, with lots of mods. Best gaming world, best story, a lot of fun to play in VR.
  • Coffee or Tea? I’m a big coffee drinking. Buy the beans and grind them myself before brewing them.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? I love them both. I would actually like to write more fantasy, but somehow I slid into the scifi niche, so there I am.

What question(s) would you like to ask me? How do you come up with these questions?

My Answer: I think the first time I asked questions like this happened because I got tired of internet question memes, so oddly that made me make my own. The ones out there were just bland and boring, and so I made a whimsical one to have fun with my friends.

I used the idea again when I got married to my second wife. We wanted to make it fun, so I asked a larger series of questions to everyone involved in the ceremony. Then, we had a friend who is great at such things introduce us all as if we were wrestlers coming into a WWE event or something like that. We had a fantastic wedding.

As everyone who answers the interview questions realizes, I want to get some idea of your methods. Hopefully, this will help me and my readers find things that might improve our writing and publishing skills. However, I didn’t want it to be bland and boring, hence the Monty Python way of asking the questions.

But I also wanted to give each of you a chance to be something more than a name on an e-book. For example, I think it’s awesome that I now know you’re a Florida State fan. Plus, given how much I like to host people, it’s always a good thing to know how to cook their steak should the opportunity arise.

Aura Cover

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not? How did you ever decide to get into this crazy business?

I was out of work and pissed off at the employer that had just fired me, and decided to write a book exposing the corruption of mental health organizations. I sat down and wrote that book in two weeks, then started on an alternate history. When that was done, I went to work on a 260K word fantasy.

Refuge, Book 1 Cover

I wrote on an off for over a decade, collecting over three hundred rejection slips, but trying to do it the old way, through a publisher. Finally, in 2010, I was really sick of my job and wanted to become a full time writer. I wrote the equivalent of 7 novels that years, including the books that were turned into the first two volumes of Exodus: Empires at War and Refuge: The Arrival. I didn’t actually put anything online until December 31, 2011, and nothing much sold for the first eight months. I did a giveaway for a book called
The Deep Dark Well, and 4,100 went off the Amazon hard drive. When Exodus came out in November (I had put out Refuge first, thinking it would be the breakout novel), I started selling 100 books a day. In January of 2013 I sold 8,900 books and the sales continued into February with 5,400. I kept getting good sale the first couple days of March, and I turned in my two week notice and never looked back.

What’s Your Upcoming Event Schedule? I will also have books coming out later this year from Arc Manor Publishing (Kinship War) and Chris Kennedy Publishing (When Eagles Dare).

Doug’s Book Biography:

Doug Dandridge is the author of over thirty self-published books on Amazon, including the very successful, Exodus: Empires at War series, the Refuge techno-fantasy series, The Deep Dark Well Trilogy, as well as numerous standalone science fiction and fantasy novels.  In a five year period as a self-published author, Doug has sold well over two hundred thousand eBooks, paperbacks and audio books.  He has amassed over 5,000 reviews across his books on Amazon, with a 4.6 star average, and a similar number of ratings on Goodreads with a 4.12 star average. He has also written his first traditionally published novel, the first of a series, Kinship Wars. He served in the US Army as an infantryman, as well as several years in the Florida National Guard in the same MOS.  Doug, who holds degrees from Florida State University and the University of Alabama, lives with his five cats in Tallahassee Florida.  He is a sports enthusiast and a self-proclaimed amateur military historian.


Thanks to Doug for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you 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.

Finally, 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.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

 

Rob’s Update: Serendipity

Week 40 of 2018

Greetings all

Been a good week here, though a little disjointed. Since I’ve moved back I’ve been to the doctor a bunch. During the time I was in Omaha, I kept waiting to figure out where we were going to live before getting a doctor. Since we didn’t actually find a place, I kept putting it off. Now that I’m 50, it’s not smart for me to avoid doctors, so I’ve been getting my 250,000 mile checkup, so to speak. That means a bunch of visits, and I had several this week.

The good news is that I’m doing pretty good for 50. I’m also really pleased with my new doctor. My last KC doctor took forever once you got to see her. She’s very smart, but I simply don’t want to wait three hours once I get there. This new doctor is actually incredibly quick. Other than the procedure I had last week, I’ve had something like ten office visits in the last month and a half. I’ve spent less time total in those visits, including with the specialists, than I did the first time I visited my old doctor. Nevertheless, each time takes out a chunk of the day.

What isn’t in as good of shape is my old phone. I didn’t want to upgrade to a Note 9 just yet, but I dropped my Note 5 and broke it. Ah, well. I did want the 9, and frankly the 512Gb of storage has already proven useful.

Still, I titled this week “Serendipity” because of last weekend. I got a chance to go to the Great Plains Ren Faire because a friend mentioned it. I did well and I got to briefly see my mom. I’ll be back in April.

Then, once I was there, another friend posted they were at the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert in Fayetteville, AR. Idly, Friday night, I checked their tour dates since I wanted to see them at least once. And, lookee there, they’re playing Saturday night after the Ren Fest closed in downtown Wichita. Definitely serendipitous.

I was a little disappointed in the Marshall Tucker Band, who opened for them. For whatever reason, their sound was a bit off. Can’t You See was fabulous, though. Anyway, I really enjoyed Skynyrd. The bits where they interwove parts of Ronnie Van Zant singing on the screen were powerful. Tuesday’s Gone live was worth the price of admission.

And I got to yell for someone to play Freebird without irony.

Oh, and I also named this post “Serendipity” because I love that word. It’s so mellifluous. It was also the title of our English reader in 6th grade. It had some great stories.

Ah, well, that’s enough about me. I’m going to get back to work. Have a great week.

Current Playlist Song

Acadian Dance by Rik Emmett from Triumph. This is from his acoustic album where he basically plays around and shows off all he can do. It’s good writing music.

Quote of the Week

Today is Neils Bohr’s birthday. He’s got a number of great quotes, but this is one of my favorites, especially since I started writing. And before you ask, I still have quite a few to make.

“An expert is a person who has found out by his own painful experience all the mistakes that one can make in a very narrow field.”
– Neils Bohr

News and Works in Progress

  • The Feeding of Sorrows (approx. 20,000)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AFS (2,556)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

This week I started #Four Horsetober, a bunch of interviews of other authors in the Four Horsemen Universe. You can expect a bunch of interviews throughout October in honor of the two Lyon’s Den anthologies.

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on the Four Horsemen writers. See the list above for all the interview links.

Today’s Weight: 382.8

Updated Word Count: 209,771

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki:  417 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: Kacey Ezell (Rerun)

Greetings all

This week’s interview is with the amazing Kacey Ezell. She is, I can say without doubt, the first person I’ve interviewed who has over 2500 hours flying Hueys and Mi-17s.

She’s also one of my favorite writers right now. I really enjoy her Minds of Men alternate history and am waiting for the next one in that series. She’s also one of the writers in the Four Horsemen Universe, collaborating with Marisa Wolf to write Assassin and show us all the might of the Depik.

Interview: Kacey Ezell

What is your quest?

To crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and hear the lamentations of their women. (I’m sure I’m not the first to say that!) For real, though, I just want to tell good stories that I’d like to read. And I want to be a dragonrider. For Science. (Rob’s Note: SCIENCE!!!!)

What is your favorite color?

Blue. I like emotional gut-punch moments in my writing. Specifically, I always try to have a moment or moments where I put the reader in the mind of the character and make the character’s emotions resonate within the reader. If I can make you cry, or laugh, or grieve, or rage, or exult, then I’ve done my job.

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

I always feel like I’m never writing enough, especially when it gets busy with the day job. I get frustrated when I fly long days and then don’t have the energy to do more than drag myself into the shower and then into bed. My discipline demands that I at least try to write something every day, but a recent string of 12-hour days has shown me that sometimes, when I’m drained, I’m drained. So I’ll settle for writing 100 words that day and call it a win.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

In writing, my personal Holy Hand Grenade is what I’ve described above. I’m always proud when I can make the reader feel something. In life/marketing, I think my personal Holy Hand Grenade is my ability to connect with people and make friends quickly and easily. I love getting to know new people, and that’s been incredibly helpful in my career!

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Animal
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Creamy
  • Favorite Sports Team? Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Cake or Pie? Apple Pie / Guinness Cake (it cooks out! I promise!)
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Spicy salsa heavy on the cilantro
  • Wet or Dry? wet
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Leo
  • Whisky or Whiskey? I’m Mormon, don’t care.
  • Favorite Superhero? Wonder Woman
  • Steak Temperature? Medium Rare
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Um, I’m too young for that. 😉
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Summer
  • Favorite Pet? I can’t choose. I love them both. 😊
  • Best Game Ever? Shadowrun
  • Coffee or Tea? Again, Mormon. I’ll take Sugar Free Red Bull, please
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Again, por que no los dos?

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

My Answer: Hmmm, in my younger days I could walk into any neighborhood bar in any country and become Norm before the night was over.

I suppose now my greatest superpower is drinking the bitterest beer. I’ve had brewers try to out-bitter me. I welcome their attempts to tilt at this windmill, as it means free beer for me.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

FantaSci and LibertyCon 2019 for sure. Maybe some others along the way if I can talk my husband into it.

Do you have a creator biography?

Kacey Ezell was born in South Dakota in 1977. Her parents joined the US Air Force in 1984, and she grew up around the world on various military bases. When she was seven, her mother gave her a copy of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragondrums, and shortly thereafter, Kacey decided that she wanted to be a dragonrider when she grew up. In 1999, she followed her parents into the “family business” and graduated from the United States Air Force Academy before going to pilot training. As dragons were in short supply at the time, she reasoned that flying aircraft was the next best thing. She earned her wings in 2001, and has over 2500 hours in the UH-1N and Mi-17 helicopters.

From the time she was a small child, Kacey made up stories to tell to her friends and family. In 2009, while deployed to Iraq, she wrote the military-themed supernatural story “Light”, which was accepted for publication in the Baen Books anthology Citizens. She was asked to consult on John Ringo’s 2015 novel Strands of Sorrow, and wrote the cover story for the Black Tide Rising anthology set in Ringo’s zombie apocalypse universe. That story, “Not in Vain” was selected for inclusion in the “Year’s Best Military SF and Adventure Fiction” anthology produced by Baen Books.

In addition, she’s written a story for each of the bestselling Four Horsemen Universe anthologies, and her story “Family Over Blood” is included in the national bestseller “Forged In Blood” set in Michael Z. Williamson’s Freehold Universe.

She and Christopher L. Smith are currently collaborating with John Ringo on a new post-apocalyptic steampunk trilogy from Baen, and her first solo novel, “Minds of Men” was released by Theogony Press on 10 November 2017. She returned to the Four Horseman Universe to collaborate with Marisa Wolf on “Assassin”, a novel about an alien race of felinoid killers-for-hire. “Assassin” is available now from Seventh Seal Press.

Kacey writes science fiction, fantasy, horror, noir, romance… etc. fiction. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and two cats.
Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not? You should have asked me about my plans for world domination, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you about them. You’ll just have to find out.

And if you are interested in a FREE short story in my Psyche of War universe, you can absolutely have one by simply signing up for my mailing list! It’s also the best way to stay up to date on what’s going on with me, and how that whole world domination thing is going. You can join by going to www.kaceyezell.net.

Also, Mark Wandrey and I released Weaver at Liberty Con this year, and we’d love to have your readers check it out and if they liked it, leave a review! (Rob’s Note: Please give us reviews. Please, please, please. It’s huge)

Also, also, Minds of Men was just selected as a 2018 Finalist for the Dragon Award for Best Alternate History Novel! <cue excited screaming!> The Dragon Awards are a big deal to me, because they’re a truly fan-favorite award.


Many thanks to Kacey for taking the time to let me interview her.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you 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.

Finally, 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.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

 

Interview: Chris Kennedy (Rerun)

Greetings all

On Thursday, Tales from the Lyon’s Den was released. On November 2nd, Luck Is Not a Factor will be released. In honor of the fourth and fifth anthologies in the Four Horsemen Universe, I have decided to do a bunch of reviews of authors who have contributed to the universe throughout October.

We’re going to start with a re-run of an interview I did in June. Chris Kennedy is one of the founders of this universe, along with Mark H. Wandrey. He’s a really sharp guy who has done amazing things in the self-publishing world. He’s taught me quite a bit already, and I suggest you listen to him and watch what he does.

Interview: Chris Kennedy

What is your quest?

I want to sell a million books. Failing that, I want to help my authors sell ten million books.

What is your favorite color?

Science fiction…with a side of fantasy.

Chris Kennedy
Chris Kennedy

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

Not coming from a writing background, I had to learn to do it right. I read blogs for 15 minutes a day for four years to help develop my craft and my ability to sell more books. I’m still not totally where I want to be, but I’m a much better writer than when I started, and I’m a lot closer to the goal.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I like writing gritty combat and a good motivational speech once in a while.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Animal.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Definitely crunchy. I don’t know why they make that other stuff.
  • Favorite Sports Team? UNC Tarheels basketball (despite their showing in the NCAAs last year), NY Yankees baseball, and Atlanta Falcons football.
  • Cake or Pie? Pie…but why can’t I have both?
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon…because you can put it in Corona and make it taste better.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Helluva Good Sour Cream and Onion
  • Wet or Dry? Sopping wet. (Rob’s Note: He’s a Navy guy)
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Two Steps from Hell. Outstanding for combat writing music.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Bud Light. (Rob’s Note: Sigh)
  • Favorite Superhero? Gal Gadot Wonder Woman. Because Gal Gadot.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall
  • Best Game Ever? In # of hours played? Everquest.
  • Coffee or Tea? Diet Pepsi
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Scifi, with a side of fantasy.

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

How many MAC rounds can a trooper survive?

Rob’s Answer: If we’re talking a magnetically accelerated piece of tungsten, then zero if the trooper isn’t in a CASPer. If we’re talking the fully-loaded magazine of MAC rounds we’re going to have at our LibertyCon party, I would say most can survive five or so, depending upon rate of fire and body mass. However, this survival is likely to be more painful and the target might prefer the quick death of tungsten.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?

You should have asked, “Do you have any free book promotions coming up soon?”

Why yes, yes he did. Back when this was run in June.

However, right now he does not have any promotions but take a look at Tales from the Lyon’s Den on Amazon. And if you haven’t read any of the Four Horsemen Universe, check out the first one, Cartwright’s Cavaliers.

Come back tomorrow for another author in the Universe.


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.

 

 

LibertyCon 2018 AAR

I’m sitting at Prince Street Pizza in Gallatin, TN and I’m exhausted.

Which means my plan is proceeding apace.

I’m in Gallatin because I’ll be staying at Mark and Joy Wandrey’s place for a few days before going to InConjunction this weekend. I’m exhausted because LibertyCon is the best SF/F convention around.

The best part of LibertyCon is the amount of professional networking. I got to plan for new projects and learn from some of the best in the SF/F world. It’s changed my writing schedule a bit, and that’s a good thing. I’ll talk about that more as time goes by, but some of it is too ill-formed at the moment to really discuss yet. However, I’ve planted some seeds in Shijuren and other universes that should end up being very fruitful. I begin the AAR with the networking comments because those started on Thursday before anything else.

I’d like to especially thank Steve Jackson, Bill Fawcett, and Chuck Gannon for taking the time to answer questions and pass on some of the lessons they’ve learned. Great stuff for all of them, and they’re the biggest reason I’ll be adjusting my plans over the next year.

My first panel happened on Friday at 2pm. This panel discussed historical fiction and also history in fiction. It went very well because Louise Herring-Jones, David B. Coe, and I all had good experience with historical processes as well as fiction. We all had lots of good stuff to say. Coe, in particular, showed off why he was  a deserving guest of honor with his discussion about his Thieftaker Chronicles set in Revolutionary War-era Boston.

The rest of Friday involved getting this arranged for Jamie Ibson’s party, Opening Ceremonies, and my Author’s Alley stint. That all went smoothly, including a number of sales in the Alley, which can often be hit or miss. We held Jamie Ibson’s room party in my room to make life easier for Brandy, and it went well. I went to bed late.

Even though I fell asleep late, I was up and lively at the Four Horsemen Roundtable at 10am on Saturday. I had the new laptop set up and showed off some of the wiki, along with showing the author pages. I also edited and added a few Wiki pages live, much to the delight of the audience in a few cases.

Then was the banquet at noon. The banquet is always an interesting animal for me. I don’t usually get big sales or networking, but it’s always enjoyable. Chuck Gannon, by the way, was an amazing MC.

At 3pm I then had a reading. I used Chapter 7, which is the chapter including Olga Belobashnina Cherepanova. It’s actually a perfect section for reading, as it’s essentially an entire story arc on its own. It’s only about 15-18 minutes, which usually means I have more time, so I also read the Epilogue to Brief Is My Flame, which doesn’t really include spoilers, does include the riddle, and hints at what’s coming in None Call Me Mother. The reading went well, though there weren’t many people there. Unfortunately, a woman who heard my reading last year and wanted to hear this year’s showed up after I was done. I ended up giving her my reading copy of the text at the Kaffeeklatsch. Nice, very smart woman who I’m glad likes my stuff.

Anyway, then was my autograph session. That was not particularly well attended, at least not for me, but I got to do some more networking.

At that point, it was time to prepare for the Brief Is My Flame / Four Horsemen room party. I’d like to thank Jamie for helping and contributing, even though he had to be at a different party. Anyway, it was a huge blast. My new drink, the MAC Round, went very well. I sold a few books, made a number of new readers, and we had a great time. I got to sleep about 3.

Which meant the Kaffeeklatsch at 10am was damned early. I made it, but I was generally content to let people swirl around me.

Following that was the Upcoming in the Chris Kennedy Publishing panel. I was in that panel because I’ll have two follow-ups to “Where Enemies Sit” from For a Few Credits More. The first is a short story for the Lyon’s Den anthology that I’ve talked about a couple of times. The second is the full-length novel. I announced the working title of the novel, The Feeding of Sorrows, which, like “Where Enemies Sit,” is a line from the Havamal.

I just want to take a quick moment and thank Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey for letting me be a part of the 4HU and tagging along on their coattails.

Anyway, that was the last thing I had scheduled for the con itself. I went to closing ceremonies, entitled the Bitch at Brandy session where they actively solicit ways to improve LibertyCon. I have no doubt this is one reason this is the best-run convention going. The big announcement was next year’s LibertyCon will be at the Read House on 31 May – 2 June, which is about a month ahead of their traditional date. However, that means LibertyCon 2019 is only 11 months away.

Sunday night at LibertyCon includes a traditional trip to a Brazilian steakhouse and more socializing / networking, and then back to the hotel for the Dead Dog party. Last year at this party, I got to do a play-test of a game similar to Cards Against Humanity with Steve Jackson. This year, I got to play one of the newly released versions of the game, Conspiracy Theory, and even won a copy to bring home. It’s a hoot.

The only real problem with LibertyCon is that there’s so many cool people to talk to and only three days to do so.

Again, I’d like to compliment the staff of LibertyCon. I’m quite serious when I say it’s better run than any other con I’ve ever seen, and it’s not close. Brandy Spraker does a fantastic job organizing things. Rich Groller is the most on-the-ball programming guy around (by a wide margin). It’s actually kind of silly how quickly he responds to stuff. Matthew Fanny keeps track of memberships, and I was a bit of a jerk to him this year as our circumstances kept changing and I switched plans with my membership four or five times. He just took care of me, even though I wasn’t easy. Misty Kat Gutierrez-Walker had the game room thrown at her at essentially the last minute, but, as she has done in the past, kept things going.

This year had to have been hard on them. They didn’t know if they were going to have a site in 2018, so they basically did the normal work of a con in about 6 months, instead of a year. That also included adapting to a new site (the Marriott Downtown), which had very particular rules. A great hotel in many ways, but not necessarily great for LibertyCon. Anyway, they did it all and the only real issues I saw came from hotel weirdnesses (like not having stairs from floor 3 to floor 2 that did not go through “employee only” areas!?!?).

This is my fifth LibertyCon, and like all the others, I’ve come out with improved plans and greater goals. I’m definitely earning a place and a name in this business in great part because of this con.

So, I know where I’ll be the weekend after Memorial Day in 2019.

 

 

Rob’s Update: In Orbit at LibertyCon

Week 26 of 2018

Greetings all

Before I get into anything else, let me just say that Brief Is My Flame is now officially live on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Brief-My-Flame-Kreisens-2/dp/1946415049.

Here’s the blurb:

An ancient foe threatens the realms of the west. Irina Ivanovna gave up her throne to search for that threat, and now finds herself pursued by a skilled runelord. Etain Muirghein must discover the truth before the other captains of the Western Isles rise against her. Ivan Yevgenich has spent his life defending his people but now faces the greatest Kreisic leader ever to hold a sword. And Geirr Stronghair wishes only to keep Svellheim at peace, but uncovers something more terrifying than war.

Fear and anger have seeped into the very stone of the Kreisens. No one knows the source of the poison, but all can see the flashing steel and searing flame that come in its wake.

Will rivals overcome centuries of hate to become allies? Will a riddle nearly two thousand years old reveal the means of saving Shijuren? Or will the swords of good men taste the blood of those they should protect?

The rulers of the western realms are right to worry…

Anyway, no need to worry about me because I am safely in orbit at LibertyCon in Chattanooga, TN. This is by far the best SF/F con I’ve ever seen. The people who run it are excellent, and the quality of the guests is fantastic. I’m honored to be a part of it.

However, while I made the trip successfully, my laptop did not. It was not unexpected, so I had budgeted for it. I’m now typing on an Acer Predator Helios that one review said was not full-featured enough to be a proper gaming computer and not cheap enough to fill that niche. Oddly, it fits my qualifications perfectly.

The only issue was that it took most of my day to go down to Atlanta and get it from Micro Center. They have a fairly wide choice of laptops, unlike most places, and there’s at least one in the KC area if I need servicing. Two hours each way, but that did mean I could have lunch with Duke Thomas, and that’s always fun.

However, I’m back in the hotel room getting ready to go out and see people. Here’s my LibertyCon schedule: http://www.libertycon.org/programming/pros2.php?pid=326

Gonna be a great time.

Current Playlist Song

My friend Bryan challenged me to listen to the entire Rush corpus in chronological order. Listening to Rush songs I haven’t listened to in a while is amazing. I always like them even more than I already did, and something new strikes me. The one yesterday was “Before and After” from the first album. Even then, they were something more.

Quote of the Week

Today is the 92nd birthday of Mel Brooks, one of my favorite film creators. Here’s a fantastic quote that we should remember more often in my opinion.

“Humor is just another defense against the universe.”
– Mel Brooks

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (2,007)
  • AFS (2,681)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s interview was with Chris Kennedy and you can find it here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1215. His Amazon page is here: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B00E4MIJA8/.

Today’s Weight: 386.8

Updated Word Count: Still have collected, but it’s around 160,000.

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 369 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: Chris Kennedy

Greetings all

This week’s interview is with Chris Kennedy, who has shown many of us how to be an independent writer. He’s written several series of his own, founded a publishing company that supports other independent authors, and, along with Mark Wandrey, started the Four Horsemen Universe of which I’ve contributed.

He’s taught me quite a bit already, and I suggest you listen to him and watch what he does.

Interview: Chris Kennedy

What is your quest?

I want to sell a million books. Failing that, I want to help my authors sell ten million books.

What is your favorite color?

Science fiction…with a side of fantasy.

Chris Kennedy
Chris Kennedy

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

Not coming from a writing background, I had to learn to do it right. I read blogs for 15 minutes a day for four years to help develop my craft and my ability to sell more books. I’m still not totally where I want to be, but I’m a much better writer than when I started, and I’m a lot closer to the goal.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I like writing gritty combat and a good motivational speech once in a while.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Animal.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Definitely crunchy. I don’t know why they make that other stuff.
  • Favorite Sports Team? UNC Tarheels basketball (despite their showing in the NCAAs last year), NY Yankees baseball, and Atlanta Falcons football.
  • Cake or Pie? Pie…but why can’t I have both?
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon…because you can put it in Corona and make it taste better.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Helluva Good Sour Cream and Onion
  • Wet or Dry? Sopping wet. (Rob’s Note: He’s a Navy guy)
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Two Steps from Hell. Outstanding for combat writing music.
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Bud Light. (Rob’s Note: Sigh)
  • Favorite Superhero? Gal Gadot Wonder Woman. Because Gal Gadot.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall
  • Best Game Ever? In # of hours played? Everquest.
  • Coffee or Tea? Diet Pepsi
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Scifi, with a side of fantasy.

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

How many MAC rounds can a trooper survive?

Rob’s Answer: If we’re talking a magnetically accelerated piece of tungsten, then zero if the trooper isn’t in a CASPer. If we’re talking the fully-loaded magazine of MAC rounds we’re going to have at our LibertyCon party, I would say most can survive five or so, depending upon rate of fire and body mass. However, this survival is likely to be more painful and the target might prefer the quick death of tungsten.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?

You should have asked, “Do you have any free book promotions coming up soon?”

Why yes, yes I do.

Both “Janissaries” and “Cartwright’s Cavaliers” will be free this weekend. Want to introduce someone to my writing or the 4HU? This is your chance to do it—get them to pick up a free copy this weekend!

You can find them here:


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.

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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.