Tag Archives: Firefly

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: Jon Osborne

Jon Osborne is currently editing his draft of When the Axe Falls, his next Four Horsemen novel. You’ll want to read it when it comes out, because I’ve enjoyed his other stuff. He’s also a fun guy to stand next to at a con.

Interview: Jon Osborne
Jon Osborne
Jon Osborne

What is your quest?

I run cinematic games, relying heavily on ‘theater of the mind’, seeking to tell a fun and immersive story. When I write, I try to bring the readers into the world – I want them to see the action and hear the characters’ voices – and have fun along the way.

What is your favorite color?

As my stories are character-centered. I like for characters to have distinctive traits. I feel it not only makes the story more immersive, it helps the readers readily identify and keep track of the characters.

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

My biggest challenge is focus – it is hard to banish the squirrels and be more productive. I admit, I am a little envious of the output of some of my fellow authors. (Rob’s Note: Me too, brother. me too.)

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I think character interaction is my strength. The relationships between my characters are organic – I want them to feel like real people.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Animal
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy
  • Favorite Sports Team? Colts
  • Cake or Pie? Pie
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Chipotle Hot Salsa
  • Wet or Dry? Huh?
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Patty Gurdy
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Whisky
  • Favorite Superhero? Wolverine
  • Steak Temperature? Medium
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Battlestar Galactica
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall
  • Favorite Pet?  (provide pictures if you want) I don’t have one
  • Best Game Ever? D&D
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Yes

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

Do you find it as hard to write about yourself as some authors (myself included) find it?

Rob’s Answer: Depends on the question. If we’re talking about my philosophies, not really. I like good philosophical discussions. I can also talk about things I’m fanatic about, like Rush or the Dallas Cowboys or Firefly.

But there’s a lot of questions I ask that I’ll struggle with when I do my own one of these. Also, some of the questions other authors ask me are really tough. I’m awful at tooting my own horn, so much so that it hurts my sales dramatically. It’s something I need to work on, actually.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

And where can we find you?

DragonCon 2018 is the last con for a bit.

Do you have a creator biography?

Jon R. Osborne has been gaming since he was thirteen. He studied journalism in high school and majored in journalism in college. Many years later, he finally combined writing and story-telling with his first published work, a short story in the military science fiction Four Horsemen Universe.

A year later, Jon has had a second story published, as well as two novels in his urban fantasy series, The Milesian Accords. The second book, A Tempered Warrior, is a Dragon Awards finalist for Best Fantasy Novel.

Jon lives in Indianapolis, where he continues to play role-playing games, and is working on the third book of The Milesian Accords as well a novel in the Four Horsemen Universe. You can find out more at jonrosborne.com.


Thanks to Jon 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: Leaf In The Wind

Week 32 of 2018

Greetings all

Last night was Moonlight Madness at Pennsic. What does that mean? It means that every merchant here stays open until at least 11pm or so. It’s often a lot of fun as the merchant area is lit up and filled with laughter. There are various different groups who do parades or some other pageantry. It’s a neat time, as well as good for sales.

It’s also exhausting.

My big news this past week is that I submitted a short story to an editor. I haven’t heard back whether they accepted it, but even so it’s progress. Plugging away.

I spent the early part of the week working with another short story. It’s close, but it needs more umph. I’m going to let it gel and get back to it next week. There’s a core to it that I really like, plus some fun openings for the future, but it’s not quite there yet.

So today I’m going to work on a new short story in Shijuren. I have had a couple of ideas I want to explore and I don’t really want to dig into something big until I get back and settled.

Finally, if you haven’t watched it yet, please take some time and watch my interview with Vince Conaway. This week I decided to do my weekly interview face to face and I think it came out great.

And with that, I’m off to toss words at the page.

Current Playlist Song

As mentioned in earlier updates, I’ve expanded the products I sell at conventions and events to include Celtic, Ren Faire, SCA, filk, and convention music. Most of Pennsic has been me listening to Pandora Celtica and Bedlam Bards.

Right now, I’m listening to “Leaf In the Wind” by Bedlam Bards, one of the great songs from their CD “On the Drift” of Firefly-themed songs. Great CD. I’m out of stock but will try and get more.

Quote of the Week

Today in 1854, Henry David Thoreau published Walden, so here’s something from that that seems pertinent.

“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.”

– Henry David Thoreau, Walden

News and Works in Progress

  • CB (6,526)
  • AFS (2,681)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Vince Conaway. I actually recorded a live interview with him here at Pennsic. You can find the interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1283 and you can find his website at: http://www.vinceconaway.com/.

Today’s WeightNot sure, will update after Pennsic

Updated Word Count: 171,032

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 376 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

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Rob’s Update: 2018

Week 1 of 2018

Greetings all

I hope everyone is recovered from New Year’s Eye. I am, as of today. Yesterday was a bit of a zombie moment as I recovered from enjoying our trip to St. Louis.

However, I’m of as sound of mind and body that I can be right now and I make these plans without duress, though I see the WW1 Flying Kitty is on the prowl.

Speaking of sound mind, thanks to my apprentice, I may be of sounder mind than I have been in a long while. I’m someone who stares at his phone at night. I’m also someone who hasn’t had a good night’s sleep since the early 2000s. Those things do not correlate, exactly, as one is not necessarily the cause of the other, though it is a contributing factor. My apprentice pointed out that blue light is a problem, and my phone has a blue light filter. I don’t know if it’s entirely the cause, but I’ve been sleeping better since I turned it on. There are other factors, like some temporary stability in December and such, but it’s certainly helped. While I’ll probably never get a good night’s sleep, as defined by most people, I am sleeping better of late.

Anyway, I have two goals this year. The first is to put out 365,000 publishable words. Yep, I’m aiming at 1000 publishable words per day. What do I mean by publishable? Well, something that is either published or in the process of getting published. I will count blog posts towards that, in part because now doing blog posts will seem more productive in my head than I normally conceive of them. I know I need to put more there for it to get more followers, but it’s not easy for me. Doing this will appeal to the same part of my mind that really enjoys mowing the lawn. I get my exercise out of the way and I’ve done something else.

Speaking of exercise, my other goal is to lose weight. Both my sweetie and I want to walk when things get finally settled, though that’s still a ways away. Still, the day to day life is better now, even it’s not our permanent solution, and when I’m home I’m eating better than I have been. That’s helped.

However I do it, I’m going to use you all to help me but holding myself accountable on both things. The last thing on each week’s update will be my current weight and updated word count. You’ll get to see it happening.

For my blog, I’ll be setting things up to have a standard day to put some things out. For example, Wednesday will be my update day.

Friday will be Event Report Day, though I’ll sometimes do it on other days given the schedule, depending upon the schedule of the event. Here I’ll comment on the last event, or recent ones, and talk about events I’m attending.

I have some ideas for Monday. I think it might be Random Wikipedia Article Story Prompt Day, or something like that. Basically I’ll look at a few random Wikipedia articles, something I routinely do anyway for story ideas, and put the first story idea that comes to mind out on a blog post.

Please note that I will *not* be emailing these out. I said I’ll send you at most one email a week, except for the occasional major announcement, and that’s my limit. These things will only show up on the blog, which will then get announced on Twitter and Facebook.

As for the Weekly Email,  I’ve added content as well as accountability. The first thing will be the song I’m listening to when I send this email, with maybe some commentary or memory about the song.

One more thing I’m going to do is put the current word count of the next novel, so you have a benchmark. I’ll also be putting the short stories I’m working, under their file name acronym, which means you won’t know anything about them, other than that I am working on them. I’ve been wondering how to tell you when I’m making progress on these, and I think this will be the way.

This blog post has 1057 words. Only 363,943 to go in 2018.

Current Playlist Song: “Wish Them Well” Rush (Clockwork Angels) It’s just not worth keeping the demons in your life. Just wish them well.

Quote of the Week

You have now heard my plan. I think this quote from Firefly sums up the notion of plans right well.

Zoe: Cap’n’ll come up with a plan.
Kaylee: Well, that’s good. Right?
Zoe: Possible you’re not recalling some of his previous plans.
– Firefly (Safe)

News and Works in Progress

  • Short Story: DOR (1678): A new project I aim to finish next week.
  • Brief Is My Flame (28834): I did a lot of cleanup on these files, mostly because I realized I had mixed a couple of things up.

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

I love Firefly not just because of the writing, characters, and stories, but also because how it inspired some friends of mine, the Bedlam Bards. You can find their music on Amazon here or just search for them. On the Drift is an entire CD of Firefly-themed music.

Today’s Weight: 388.4

Updated Word Count: 1057

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

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