Tag Archives: Dallas Cowboys

NFL Christmas Presents Opened

I meant to get to this sooner, but with finishing Where Now the Rider and Planet Comicon, I just haven’t had a chance. I also didn’t have a chance to the the Comicon AAR out earlier, so look at me, double-posting in a day. Go me!

Anyway, as a Dallas Cowboys fan I’ve been very happy with our drafting over the last few years. Much of that success can be given to Will McClay, who has proven himself an excellent talent evaluator.

Getting Dak Prescott in the 4th and having him turn out to be as good as he has been is a stroke of great fortune, but even so last year’s draft was excellent. Ezekiel Elliot looks all that was hoped, and both Maliek Collins and Anthony Brown look like quality starters from the 3rd and 6th rounds respectively. If Jaylen Smith and Charles Tapper can return from injury, than the 2016 draft will be one of the best ever in the NFL. That’s not hyperbole, actually. If one can get three quality starters in a draft, then you’ve had a good draft. This one currently has four, with a chance at more.

So I wasn’t expecting anything like that this year. However, this draft lined up with Dallas’s needs, defensive linemen and defensive backs and I am very pleased with the result because we came out of the draft with 7 players from those two areas.

For my whimsical write up, check my post on the best Dallas Cowboys website, Blogging the Boys: http://www.bloggingtheboys.com/2017/5/2/15525582/rhodris-2112-pack-2017-draft. There I have an occasional series of 2112-packs, where I give out 12 aptly named beers to whoever strikes my fancy.

Overall, the draft is getting bigger and bigger, and for me, lots more fun. The more data there is out there, the more I research. Lots of fun stuff, especially when I see more of the moves getting played out.

For example, I mentioned that the Cowboys needed DLine and DBs and that this draft is deep in both positions. It’s very clear that the Cowboys anticipated this depth and engineered their team to need those things most right at the time when they were most available. Excellent job, especially since in so doing they will have more draft choices next year to find whatever positions are deep in 2018.

Don’t ask me what they are. I’m not a professional and I haven’t started to research that draft class yet. I’m hoping it will be deep in offensive tackles (a premium position that was extremely weak this year), linebackers (where Dallas has some young players looking for their next contract), and receiver (because Dez is getting old and we need an heir).

As a spectacle, it’s getting more fun too. The NFL and the Make-a-Wish Foundation arranged for a kid to announce the Baltimore Ravens pick. Awesome thing.

The announcers in general are getting more fun. In the 2nd and 3rd rounds, former players or people affiliated with the teams announce the picks. The draft was held in Philadelphia this year, home of one of Dallas’s greatest rivals, so when retired Cowboy great Drew Pearson took the stage to announce the pick, he was soundly booed. He gave it back in spades by epicly trolling them. Brilliant stuff.

Sports are entertainment. One of my biggest problems with the NFL is that sometimes it takes itself too seriously. It’s great to see the draft changing, and perhaps that will cause some other changes, like getting rid of stupid overcelebration penalties.

It’s only 358 days to the 2018 NFL Draft, but who’s counting?

 

Rob’s Update: Loved and Lost

Week of 15-21 January

Greetings all

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

Quote of the Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

News and Works in Progress

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

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

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

Spotlight

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

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

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

Weekly Update Archive

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

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

NFL Playoff Prediction

Greetings all

Last week, I did a large NFL playoff prediction on Blogging the Boys, a Dallas Cowboys blog. I meant to link it here but forgot.

http://www.bloggingtheboys.com/2017/1/4/14169844/rhodris-2112-pack-2016-playoff-edition

Me forgetting to post this is symptomatic of me pushing through a busy holiday season. I’ll be getting more posts out, including some follow-ups to this one as the NFL playoffs continue.

Thanksgiving

Greetings all

It’s much easier to focus on what’s wrong and not what’s right about something. To let perfect be the enemy of the good.

Thanksgiving is a perfect example. I’ve seen people complaining for years about how it’s just a time for gluttony, an insult to Native Americans, and it leads into all the greed of Black Friday. There’s some truth to all of these and other complaints.

But there’s so much to appreciate about Thanksgiving that is forgotten when focusing on such things. It’s a time for many people to enjoy spending time with family.

Gluttony yes, but also an opportunity to make great food and share it with friends.

It’s also a great day for football. I personally really appreciate it.

I know there are those who love Black Friday in the way a hunter loves the opening day of deer season. Not my thing, but I’m happy for people who enjoy it.

More importantly, Thanksgiving prompts all of us to think about our lives. Cliche though the idea is, it’s a great thing to simply think about what we’re all thankful for. If you don’t do that now, I hope you do that at some point. It will make you happier.

So here are some things I’m thankful for.

My parents. I’m especially thankful my mother has survived breast cancer and that it looks my dad will survive his cancer for many years.

My sweetie. I’ve a great sweetie who puts up with me, despite my abilities to dig myself into a hole by being mouthy. She rocks. She even loved that went I went to see Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood last December that I had them pose with no one in between them so I could caption it as a picture of her with them.

My kitty. She’s a really nice cat who needs more love than I can really give her at times, but she’s still always there purring when I fall asleep.

My job. Writing is hard, but I love it. I’m not successful enough financially at this yet, but I keep plugging away.

Brewbakers. This is a bar in Lenexa that lets me sit here for hours writing and doing my job. In some ways, it feels like my office. Tonya and the rest take good care of me.

My readers. I’m very thankful for those who’ve made it clear that as long as I keep plugging away and doing my best they’ll read my stuff. The most important one in many ways is Cedar Sanderson, who has twice been there with nice things to say at exactly the time I needed nice things the most.

A myriad of *things*. By things, I mean my car, my house, my computer, my scrolls, my books, and all the rest of my stuff. I’m wealthy indeed when it comes to that and I’m thankful for all of it.

Rush. It’s really hard to express how important Rush’s music is to me. It’s been there when I’ve needed it ever since 1980. It’s inspired me many times.

My other favorite artists, authors, and performers. Too long to list, but I’ve admired a lot of great stuff over the years. In 2016, my new passion is Tengger Cavalry, which is Mongolian folk metal.

The Dallas Cowboys. I’m not saying that because they’re doing so well this year, but because they’ve given me a lifetime of great moments, even if some of those moments were some of the saddest in my life. Really, I could just say football. Or frankly, sports.

The SCA. The SCA continually gives me great opportunities to grow. Whether it’s as a person, or a public speaker, a poet, or all the other things, I am much stronger. Also, some of the best friends I’ve ever met.

My friends. Very lucky here, especially as I’m a guy who’s never really been anything but socially awkward. I do better now, but it’s never been easy. Thanks for staying when I’ve screwed up.

There’s so much more, but that’s a fine list. I don’t know about you but seeing it laid out like that makes me much happier.

I often quote Wallace Stevens, “death is the mother of beauty.” The universe gives us bad things that we dwell upon, but that makes all of the good things so much brighter.

Oh, one last thing.

Thanks to all of you for reading this.

 

 

 

Weekly Update: The Unforgiving Minute

Week of 13-19 November

Greetings all

I’ve spent much of this past week re-organizing and cleaning my garage / shop. I’ve made huge progress and can soon do some projects, which is great because I find myself generating writing ideas as I work with my hands.

I’m moving along well on Where Now the Rider, too. I’ve also been working on a few poems, some for the SCA and some for Shijuren. I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll be publishing a collection of Shijuren-themed poetry someday.

In general, I’ve filled the unforgiving minute well.

Quote of the Week
I’m a huge fan of the Dallas Cowboys. Have been since I was 4. Yesterday, Tony Romo, the quarterback of the Cowboys, showed what kind of man he is. I have a blog post about what he did here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=496.

I didn’t intend to quote from Kipling two weeks in a row, but If is too appropriate. Tony Romo has filled his unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run and more.

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If, Rudyard Kipling

News and Works in Progress
– Getting Where Now the Rider finished is my main focus right now
– Starting to add things to the wiki from Where Now the Rider. You can find some links below.

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

  • – Decided against going to Toys for Tots to get various projects done
  • – 10 December: Kris Kinder, Kansas City, MO
  • – 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

Spotlight
This week’s spotlight is on Amanda S. Green. I especially enjoy the Honor and Duty series she co-writes.

Her author page at Amazon is at: https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-S.-Green/e/B004TYLM96/ref=sr_tc_2_rm?qid=1479327165&sr=1-2-ent

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
Website: www.robhowell.org
Blog: www.robhowell.org/blog
Shijuren Wiki: http://www.shijuren.org/World+of+Shijuren+Home
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/robhowell.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Rhodri2112

Currently Available Works
A Lake Most Deep (Edward, Bk 1)
The Eyes of a Doll (Edward, Bk 2)
I Am a Wondrous Thing (The Kreisens, Bk 1)

Weekly Update Archive

 

Filling the Unforgiving Minute

Social media has been in many ways at its worst this past week because of the election. Lots of man-bites-dog stories, which in all actuality are minimal representations of what a country of 325 million is really about. If only we would report millions of dog-bites-man stories of people being decent to each other, we might realize there are fewer divisions than we think and more ways to resolve those we have.

Yesterday, though, there was a man-bites-dog story about a person acting with class and respect in a situation that many expected would cause strife. Yes, there’s frustration, pain, and anger as you will see, but none of it directed at the only people in reach, people who are not at fault.

What happened? Tony Romo came out and publicly accepted that he would be the backup quarterback to Dak Prescott for the Dallas Cowboys. Here’s the video.

Now, let’s get some perspective. Football is the ultimate team sport, and a failure by any player, coach, or front office guy can be the one thing that prevents a team from winning a Super Bowl. We know mathematically that games decided by 7 points or less are essentially coin tosses. Even the worst team in the NFL consists of talented world-class athletes, and the difference between the top and bottom is simply not much.

Watch  the Immaculate Reception (Google it, it’s a fun play to watch), and tell me if the ball hit the ground. The Steelers don’t win the Super Bowl that year if it did. But the referees said it did not, so Ken Stabler did not get elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame until after his death. An entire legacy hinged on a play that close. This sort of thing happens *every* year again and again.

It’s why we watch sports. The ultimate reality show, where people put everything they have into something and every time someone wins someone else loses.

And it’s why we care about the people, good or bad, justified or not, we care about the players.

Football is a ballet of 11 people moving in an intricate dance. If certain arm angles, foot placements, knee angles, and many other technical details are even an inch incorrect, it can mean the difference between victory and loss. There are a maximum of 20 games that matter in a season, and each one might be the one that shapes a season or a career.

Out of 32 teams, there’s only 1 Super Bowl winner. E pluribus unum, indeed.

Tony Romo will be criminally underrated unless he is the quarterback of a Super Bowl winning team, but for the bulk of Tony Romo’s career, the talent around him has been continually overrated. I can go for hours about that.

I can also talk about bad luck. Many remember the botched snap against the Seahawks in the playoffs, but don’t realize that the NFL had seen that happen a number of times that year and was already planning to change to a different ball for kicks because the ones they were using were too hard to handle. Then there’s the catch by Dez Bryant against the Packers in 2014. I can go on about that too.

I’ve watched him turn bad teams into average teams, average teams into good teams, and good teams into great ones. His results have been especially amazing since he wasn’t even seen as good enough to be drafted. 262 players were drafted in 2003. 13 of them were quarterbacks. 1 of them still plays, Carson Palmer, who is nowhere close to as good as Romo is.

There’s an advanced metric that correlates strongly to winning, it’s called ANY/A, or Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt. Basically, it penalizes the bad plays, credits the good plays, and comes up with a total. Tony Romo’s *career* ANY/A is 7.02, which is 5th all-time. Now he benefits from the era, but 5th puts him in the elite quarterback range of this era.

But he’s never had a great team around him.

I know the Cowboys went 4-12 last year, but for the first time in a while I had high hopes for this roster.They invested in the offensive line, giving the team the best one in the NFL. Ezekiel Elliot. A plethora of targets. A great offensive identity. They created a defense that was underrated, but more talented than many realize and designed to make up other talent deficiencies with hustle. A great kicker, perhaps the best in NFL history.

Last year was an aberration. Injuries yes, even more than this year, and there have been a ton of injuries this year too. But also a lot of bad luck, like 2-7 in close games and a league-worst fumble recovery rate, which is also a coin toss. A perfect storm of awful.

This year the luck has rebounded and the Cowboys have been a lucky team. The fumble rate is about average, but they’ve been 4-1 in close games. Can that continue? Not in the long term, but an NFL season is *not* long term. Remember it is, at most, 20 games.

This was to be Tony Romo’s year. After hundreds of hits, years of pounding, playing through a punctured lung, ignoring pain you or I cannot imagine, *this* was to be Tony’s year.

I had higher hopes for this year than any in recent memory, and the 8-1 record, though aided by some luck, validates that hope.

But it’s not been Tony’s year. He got hurt on an odd play with an injury medical professionals repeatedly insist had nothing to do with age, only the odd angle and timing of the play. Just a bad luck play for Romo, but it opened the door for Dak Prescott to take his place. To replace Wally Pipp in the sports lexicon with Tony Romo.

Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic when the Cowboys drafted Dak Prescott. I didn’t expect he’d be as good as he’s been so quickly, but I did have high hopes for him. And he’s been good, not as good as Romo as a quarterback, with a number of missed passes and reads and subtle mistakes, but he’s been just as good of a leader. And he’ll help us lift a Lombardi someday, maybe even this year.

Certainly, the Cowboys have played really well this year. 8-1 is a great record, and as Tony said, it’s not easy to do in the NFL. I’m especially pleased with the defense, though things will get tougher in the next few weeks because their strength has been depleted by repeated injuries in the defensive backfield. Still, this is a team that will be favored in most games for the rest of the year and justifiably so. This is a damn good team that can play anywhere.

But. It’s. Not. Been. Tony’s. Year.

As a writer, this is an amazing story. Tony is a tragic figure, one the gods seem to especially love to torture. They put his ultimate goal, a Super Bowl victory just within reach, only to snatch it away time and again. A Prometheus who brought the fire to the Cowboys and has been punished eternally by a vengeful Zeus.

As a fan, I’m watching that tragedy play out. I live and die by the Cowboys each week. I’ve had the pleasure of watching them with 4 Super Bowls, which is more than most fans of any sport can claim. I’ve also watched about 40 years where the didn’t win. I will always want the Cowboys to win the Super Bowl.

Yet I want to see Tony do it before Dak gets his. Tony is a *great* quarterback, better than a number of ones that will get into the Hall of Fame, and in a just world, he should be there eventually.

But it’s not a just world. If he is the quarterback for a Super Bowl winning team, he’ll be seen as one of the greatest ever. Without that Super Bowl win in the ultimate team sport, his legacy will be forgotten.

That would be a great shame.

Now that I’ve said all this stuff, go watch that video again. This is a man whose lifetime dream may elude him once again because of some fluke. *This* is the root of that pain and emotion in that speech. Because he knows. And yet, despite that, despite the eagle eating his liver, Romo stood up and took one for the team. As Mike Fisher, one of the reporters who cover the Cowboys said, “he threw himself on the quarterback controversy grenade.”

After all of this, I leave you with Kipling, the third stanza in particular.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son.

Tony has filled his unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run and more.

 

World Fantasy Con AAR

Greetings all

I’m mostly recovered from the drive back from World Fantasy Con. In all honesty, it was a fairly easy drive, helped by the fact that the tough part of the drive consisted of the Cowboys v. Eagles game on the radio so I was never close to falling asleep. Ranting in frustration a few times, yes, but never sleepy.

Oh, by the way, 6-1 and a 2-game lead in the NFC East is not something I predicted for this team, especially when Tony went down with injury. But I sure will take it.

Anyway, back to World Fantasy Con. I’ll probably do a real football post later.

First, I want to thank my friend Mary for giving me a place to stay over the weekend. Much as I prefer to stay at the hotel for extra chances to socialize, it’s can get so expensive.

I knew I would not get enough sales at the con to pay for the trip, which was correct, but I did get to talk to a bunch of new people and added quite a few to my mailing list. Bit by bit, I’m reaching out.

I moderated two panels, one on fantasy in the American heartland and then the impact of George RR Martin on fiction. These panels went really well. I don’t know that we discovered anything earth-shattering or surprising, but we covered the topics well enough that I received quite a few compliments on the panels in general and my skill in moderating as well. I actually really enjoy moderating panels so I hope that helps me get a reputation so I get more opportunities to moderate.

Because I was in the Dealer’s Room most of the time, I did not do a ton of socializing, except for those people who chatted with me at my table. I barely partook of any of the rest of the con, which is one reason I will probably not get a table at a World/World Fantasy Con again. The other reason, of course, is cost. They’re some of the most expensive cons around in terms of dealer tables.

I’d like to tell all of you more about World Fantasy Con, but in truth that’s pretty much all I can talk about. I was either at my table or in a panel, with a little socializing in the bar when I could afterwards.

Overall, though, I would have to say it was worth the time and effort. I did get to meet quite a few people. To a great extent, that’s the whole purpose of cons is to meet people and get my name out there. And that’s what I did.

 

Weekly Update: A National Holiday

Greetings all

I’ve had a productive week, though not necessarily with all of the things I had intended to do. Saturday I did a reading at the Kansas Authors Club meeting. Had a great time. You can find my AAR on my blog at: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=447. Of course, Sunday was for me a national holiday, the first full Sunday of the NFL. While I was disappointed in the Cowboys loss against the Giants, I can take solace in the quality play from Dak Prescott. He looks very impressive.

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote is particularly apt, given that had the Cowboys had 3 more seconds, they might very well have one the game.

“We didn’t lose the game; we just ran out of time.”
– Vince Lombardi

Works In Progress
– Worked on making a list of future events and ensuring I was added to their panels.
– I am also making progress on the next Edward novel, which will be called Where Now the Rider. Tentative release date is 30 November.

 News
– The updated electronic version of The Eyes of a Doll is now live on Amazon. If you already own it, you can add wiki links by contacting Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/clicktocall (phone) or http://www.amazon.com/clicktochat
(chat).
– I’ve been working on some new events to attend. I can confirm I’ll be at Time Eddy in Wichita from October 14-16.
Upcoming Events
– Morning 10 September: Reading at Corinth Library, 8100 Prairie Village, Kansas for the Kansas Author’s Club from 9:30am to 1pm.
– Afternoon10 September: King’s Company of Archers in Smithville, MO
– 16-18 September: Dodecacon in Columbia, MO
– 23-25 September: Gryphon’s Fest in Warrenton, MO
– 30 September – 2 October: Kansas Author’s Club convention in Lawrence, KS
– 8 October: Calontir Fall Crown in Omaha, NE

– 14-16 October: Time Eddy in Wichita, KS

Spotlight
I’m adding a new feature to my email. Here I’ll be including a link to someone or something I think is cool. This week I’m pointing you at the Kickstarter that my artist, Patrick McEvoy, is working on. As you know, I think he’s a fantastic artist and he’s lending his talents to another noir-themed mystery, this one a graphic novel that blends Cthulhu with Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. You can find more info at:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/309827462/casefile-arkham-her-blood-runs-cold?ref=project_tweet

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels
Website: www.robhowell.org
Blog: www.robhowell.org/blog
Shijuren Wiki: http://www.shijuren.org/World+of+Shijuren+Home
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/robhowell.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Rhodri2112

Currently Available Works
A Lake Most Deep (Edward, Bk 1)
The Eyes of a Doll (Edward, Bk 2)
I Am a Wondrous Thing (The Kreisens, Bk 1)

Weekly Update Archive

Pennsic 2016 AAR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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