Tag Archives: Gray Rinehart

Rob’s Update: The Swooping Spotted Hawk

Week 22 of 2018

Greetings all

I had a great time at ConQuest last weekend. Met some cool people, sold a few books, learned some things. Good stuff. My complete AAR is here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1142.

The first edited copies of Brief Is My Flame are starting to come in. I’m truly humbled by all the work my Advance Reader Team is doing for me. Thanks for helping me make a better book.

It’s clear to me that I’m getting more skilled at the technical aspects of writing. I have dramatically reduced certain mistakes that I commonly made in A Lake Most Deep. I still have a long way to go, of course, but it’s progress. I may not be designing better furniture and it may not have fantastic decoration, but at least I’m building the items better than ever.

This weekend is Wichicon, a small con held as part of Wichita’s Riverfest. I don’t that it will be a great selling con, but Wichita is home and it’s a chance to see Mom.

Today, I’ll start going through some of the edits, though next week will be when I start focusing on that. I’ve also started the short story for the next 4HU anthology. I’m in the throw words at the page and wait for me to make some sort of connection that actually turns into a story.

Current Playlist Song

“Piano Man” by Billy Joel. I know it’s overplayed, but I really appreciate the line “they’re sharing a drink called loneliness.” I’ve been there often enough.

Quote of the Week

Today is Walt Whitman’s birthday, so this quote seems obvious to me. He was so good with evocative language. We remember this part of Song of Myself mostly because of the “barbaric yawp” and perhaps Robin Williams in Dead Poet Society, but here’s more just to give the ‘yawp’ its context.

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,

I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds,

It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,

I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,

If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,

And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

– Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

News and Works in Progress

  • TAV (2,007)
  • AFS (2,681)
  • LD (819)
  • Brief Is My Flame (106,000 exactly)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Gray Rinehart, a talented musician, editor, and writer. You can find my interview of him at: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1145 and his website is: http://graymanwrites.com.

Today’s Weight: 392.4

Updated Word Count: Too many computers, the count file is on the desktop

Shijuren Wiki: 756 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 349 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: Gray Rinehart

This week’s interview is with Gray Rinehart. My first experience with Gray was at LibertyCon, where he was the toastmaster. He performed a fun filk of Major Tom so I listened to some of his other music. It’s very good, and even appeared on the Dr. Demento show. I intend to add some to my booth in future events.

He’s also a writer and editor, currently serving as Baen’s ‘Slushmaster General’  while publishing a number of short stories and a novel. Oh, and he was in the Air Force, serving a career that sounds fascinating, though probably the kind of thing he can’t entirely discuss.

Anyway, let’s hear from the man himself.

Interview: Gray Rinehart

What is your quest?

I seek the Grayl … it’s a bit like a Grail … no, to be honest, it’s nothing like a Grail … it’s uglier, and less useful.

More seriously (perhaps too seriously?), my writing quest is to write things that ring true.  Obviously nonfiction ought to do more than “ring” true, and the “truth” of music is something a bit different from the truth of a text, but we’re mostly talking about fiction.  In my fiction, I want the story to feel real, to feel true, to the reader even when it’s obviously not true.  I want to convey a sense of reality even in the unreality of the story.

Gray Rinehart

What is your favorite color?

Grey!  No, wait:  orange!  [Aaaah….] (Rob’s note: Finally, someone with the right answer 🙂 )

Speaking of things I didn’t get right when I started writing, it took me a long time to grasp the fundamentals of point of view. I’m a long way from mastering it, but I think I’ve gotten better at staying consistently with a character and delving deeper into what that character is thinking and feeling at any given moment of the story.  I think (I hope?) that adds to the overall realism I want my stories to have.

In addition, I try to make sure my characters have some emotional depth — not that they wear their hearts on their sleeves, but that they process through emotions in ways that readers find appropriate.  If something happens to them or to people they care about, whether it’s good or bad, I try to show their reactions and to make those reactions fit the characters’ personalities.

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

If it’s one of my wife’s paintbrushes that she’s flung at me for some snide comment I’ve made, those things fly at near lightspeed….

Walking on the Sea of Clouds

In terms of things I had to learn the hard way, I mentioned above that point of view has been difficult for me.  Back when I was still in the Air Force, but I was trying (after a long hiatus) to write fiction, I gave a story to a friend to read.  He turned out to be that most valuable kind of friend who would actually tell me the truth — and in this case, the truth was that the story was awful, largely because I had no idea how to handle POV.  I still struggle with it at times, whether I’m trying to capture the POV of one character or other and stay consistently in that POV within a scene, or just trying to figure out whose POV to use in a particular scene.  I don’t know that I’ll ever master it.

And, just to be clear:  That story remains unpublished!  One day I may try to fix all its many problems.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

“Three shall be the number thou shalt count …”  These questions are awesome, by the way. (Rob’s note: Thank you, and again with the right answers 😀 )

I feel as if my strength lies in stringing words together to form coherent and hopefully interesting sentences.  My skills tend to falter, though, when I’m trying to put those sentences together to form stories.  Sure, sentences become paragraphs and paragraphs become scenes and scenes become stories, but I find that I’m not a natural storyteller.  As a result, beyond the mechanical level of words and sentences, writing is hard for me.

I liken it to carpentry.  I’m a pretty fair journeyman carpenter.  I can frame something that’ll be solid, and I can even do some fair finish work, but I’m not a very good architect.  I have a tendency to forget certain features, or to neglect the building code, so the end result will stand firm but it may not be the prettiest house on the block.  So in my fiction the prose itself will be fine, but it’s hard for me to make the narrative live up to the narration.

Truths, Lies, Make Believe

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? I’m not a drummer, but I always get a kick out of Animal.
  • Crunchy or Creamy?  Creamy!  (Or, if you prefer, smooth….)
  • Favorite Sports Team?  Clemson Tigers, in whatever sport they’re playing.
  • Cake or Pie?  As much as I like cake, I’d give a good chocolate chess pie the nod over most near anything. (Rob’s note: NOM!)
  • Lime or Lemon?  You’ve got me thinking about pies, so I’d go with lemon, as in lemon meringue pie.  (Although lemon bars are good, too….)
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Crab dip.
  • Wet or Dry?  Dry rub, whether on ribs or any other to-be-barbequed meat, but I do enjoy a good barbeque sauce on the side.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?  This question hurts my head!  How do I know who you’ve heard of and not heard of?  And how am I supposed to decide on a favorite, especially when so many of my family and friends are musicians and singers?
  • Whisky or Whiskey?  Whiskey with an “e”, please.
  • Favorite Superhero?  Hard to say, but for a different reason than with the musician question above:  I’m not much of a superhero fan.  I suppose of all the superheroes I know about, I appreciate Captain America the most.
  • Steak Temperature?  Medium.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show?  (Was there TV in the 70s?)  Probably Charlie’s Angels, just to watch Farrah Fawcett and Kate Jackson.  Although I also enjoyed Baretta, and Quincy, M.E.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall?  (“All you have to do is call, and I’ll be there….”)  Anything but winter!
  • Favorite Pet?  Alas, we are down to a single pet these days:  a very rambunctious shepherd mix named Mr. Tumnus.
  • Best Game Ever?  Great song!  (You did mean the Mikey Mason song, right?) (Rob’s note: Uh, yeah, sure, I was totally thinking of that all along)
  • Coffee or Tea?  Tea, most often of the cold and sweet variety.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy?  More science fiction than fantasy, usually.

    Mr. Tumnus

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

How do you find the patience to put up with slackers like me who promise to turn in their answers and then don’t?  Whatever your secret is, I appreciate it.

Rob’s Answer: Easy. I send these questions out to a bunch of people and I only need one person a week to answer. Strategy for the win! In all truth, I usually have one or two waiting, and if I don’t, it only really takes a couple of “Howdys” on IM and people are all like “I’ll get it to you today.”

Doing these interviews have actually been a blast for me. I enjoy seeing other people’s methods and thoughts. And their favorite muppets. Plus, if any ever come to visit me, I know how to make their steak on the grill.

If I’m being cynical, I will also say that I’ve seen a good uptick in traffic to my blog, more people on my mailing list, and more contacts in the creator community. It’s been a win-win, I think, and I love positive sum games.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

Distorted Vision

The first weekend of June I’ll be at ConCarolinas in Charlotte; the second week of June I’ll be a featured author on the “Lorehaven” book club Facebook page; and at the end of June I’ll be at LibertyCon in Chattanooga.  Meanwhile, folks are welcome to friend me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/gray.rinehart), follow me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/grayrinehart), or connect with me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/grayrinehart).

If anyone wants to see what some of my music is about, I put montage videos for three of my songs on YouTube:

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

How about:  Beach or mountains?

We’re beach people, mostly, but we just spent a few days in the mountains – that’s the advantage of living in close proximity to both!

(Rob’s note: For me, mountains every time. I’d much rather climb than be bored in the sun)

Author Biography:

Gray Rinehart is the only person to have commanded an Air Force satellite tracking station, written speeches for Presidential appointees, and had music on The Dr. Demento Show.  He is the author of the near-future science fiction novel Walking on the Sea of Clouds (WordFire Press), and his short fiction has appeared in Analog Science Fiction & Fact, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies.  He is a contributing editor (the “Slushmaster General”) for Baen Books, and a singer/songwriter with two albums of mostly science-fiction-and-fantasy-inspired music.  During his rather odd USAF career, he fought rocket propellant fires, refurbished space launch facilities, “flew” Milstar satellites, drove trucks, processed nuclear command and control orders, commanded the largest remote tracking station in the Air Force Satellite Control Network, and did other interesting things.  His alter ego is the Gray Man, one of several famed ghosts of South Carolina’s Grand Strand, which is why his web site is graymanwrites.com.


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.

Rob’s Update: Empire of the Clouds

Week of 9-16 July

Greetings all

I treated myself to the Iron Maiden concert this past weekend. I put up a longer review on my blog, but for those who prefer the the TL:DR version, I loved it.

I’ve been focusing on a short story that has to go out the door by the end of the month. I will talk more about it when the draft is done, but I’m getting excited about it and its successors.

I’ve been throwing a few words here and there at Brief Is My Flame, mostly in the nature of plotting and ideas and less in terms of finished prose. Basically, by the time Pennsic comes around I need to have much of it laid out in my head, or even outlined on a page, which will make me much more productive. If I basically know what I’m writing about, the words come. If not, then I fight them. Shockingly, planning helps, even if those plans don’t survive meeting characters.

By the time Pennsic comes around, most of my house packing will be done. Things are progressing, though not as fast as I’d like in some areas. Still, I’m looking forward to getting settled at some point in the fall.

Quote of the Week

It has to be an Iron Maiden quote, right? So let’s do something from a song they didn’t do this weekend, Empire of the Clouds, which describes the R101 tragedy. More died in it than in the Hindenberg, but it’s far less remembered.

Here lie their dreams as I stand in the sun
On the ground where they built, and the engines did run
To the moon and the stars, now what have we done?
Oh, the dreamers may die, but the dreams live on
– Iron Maiden, Empire of the Clouds

News and Works in Progress

  • Short story for an anthology
  • Brief Is My Flame

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

I traded my books for Gray Rinehart’s CDs at LibertyCon and had a chance to listen to them on the way back. Very fun, which is to be expected when Dr. Demento plays your music.  Here’s his website: http://graymanwrites.com/

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

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

LibertyCon AAR

I started this on July 4th, a perfect time to celebrate LibertyCon XXX. And celebrate we must. LibertyCon is the best-run science fiction and fantasy convention out there and I had a great time.

I arrived at the Chattanooga Choo Choo fairly early on Thursday, having broken the trip up in multiple sections thanks to friends who have offered me crash space. I knew I was going to push myself pretty hard during the weekend, so I did my best to ensure I was as fresh as possible after the drive.

The big event of the weekend for me was on Saturday, where I had a joint release party for Where Now the Rider and For a Fistful of Credits, the new Four Horsemen Universe Anthology. Thursday evening I did some pre-planning and moving of stuff around to figure out the best arrangement of beverages and food.

After I got pretty much all I could do done,  I went to ConSuite, which was not technically open but was still the gathering place. There I hung out with a few people and listened to Sarah Hoyt do a reading from a book that shall remain nameless. They say that traumatic events can cause selective amnesia. It was awful. All I can say is that it wasn’t written by anyone at the con. Oh, I can say one other thing. We laughed a lot.

Most of Friday was spent organizing stuff. I decided on the layout in the room and arranged things as best I could. I also went to the Opening Ceremonies and got reacquainted with old friends. I didn’t have panels on Friday, so mostly I lounged around during the afternoon.

My main thing on Friday was my stint on Author’s Alley from 8pm to 11pm. Basically, I moved all my books and set up in front of the rooms where panels were being held. I sold a few, while meeting a number of potential readers. It’s a lot of work, but it needs to be done, and in the long run it’s worth it.

After that I was tired but had enough energy to enjoy some room parties and hang out with some friends. I especially enjoyed hanging out by the pool with Aaron Mays, Jonny Minion, and a couple of others.

As I was getting a beer from my cooler, I ran into Sarah, Dan, and Robert Hoyt. It turns out that Roberts around the world like IPAs, so I got him one and we stood around chatting. It was my first time actually having a chance to chat with Sarah. Her at LibertyCon is like me at Pennsic, only with a much smaller site and a correspondingly higher chance to find another conversation.

Saturday was a really long day. At 11am I was part of a panel discussing various ways to get your plot unstuck and overcoming writer’s block. There are a ton of possible ways to do this, but it all boils down to finding what works for you. Whether it’s changing the environment, taking a shower, driving around, or something else, it’s the kind of thing that varies for everyone.

At 2pm was a panel I was very much excited to join: The Middle Ages as Inspiration for Epic and High Fantasy. Thanks to my grad school work, I anticipated I’d have lots to say, and I did. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and hope to do it again. I could have gone on for a while.

I then had several hours before my reading with Dave Schroeder at 6pm. There were a couple of very interesting panels to attend, but I chose wisely and took a bit of a nap, arranged my books and display for the party, and got as much prep done as possible.

I did not have time to create a 20-minute long reading from Where Now the Rider, so my reading at 6pm on Saturday was one from I Am a Wondrous Thing that I have done before. It’s a scene where Irina is convinced to give up the title of Velikomat and the immediate aftermath of her stepping down. It’s an emotional one for me, and I always cry when I read it. It’s a powerful section, and I get a pretty good response from those that listen. Dave read a bit from his new fantasy series, the Congruent Apprentice, which sounds interesting but which I’ve not yet read, and a small bit from his Xenotech Rising series, which I have read some of and really like.

The Four Horsemen Universe is a series of stories about humans discovering that interstellar mercenaries are their best export good. It’s a large sandbox created by Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey and many fantastic mil-sf authors are joining in. I am looking forward to reading these stories, just as much as I’ve enjoyed the novels in the universe. Oh, and I just might be working on a short story for the next anthology.

However, this party was to celebrate the release of their first anthology, as well as my newest book. The writers of the anthology brought all the food and I brought nearly all the beverages. As usual, I am coming home with about the same amount as I took out, but at least we didn’t run out of alcohol. Many thanks to Kacey Ezell, one of the contributors to the anthology, who also contributed her cooler to help organize the drinks.

Which is a good thing because we were packed. It was a great party and I sold a goodly number of books, as well as added to my mailing list. Basically, we went four solid hours with guests.

Around 12:30, the crowd dissipated, and with the help of Aaron and a few others we transported the leftovers over to the ConSuite and shut the party down. I was toast. So toast that it took a while for me to relax enough to get to sleep.

I was still tired Sunday, but I had expected that. I started the day at the Kaffeeklatsch. I had a great conversation with the Science Guest of Honor, Dr. Elisa Quintana and Dr. Tom Barclay, who is also a scientist. They study exoplanets and we discussed the most efficient ways we can get humans in space. Well, I asked questions and they taught me stuff, which was wonderful from my perspective.

Immediately after that was my turn at the signature table, where I joined Gray Rinehart and Charity Ayres. The signature table can be packed if a David Weber, David Drake, or John Ringo is sitting there, but for us was fairly quiet. I think we all sold a book or two, with signatures, but mostly the three of us had a great conversation.

One of the joys of LibertyCon is comparing notes with other professionals, because there is such a high percentage of professionals to fans. LibertyCon caps its attendance at 750, and over 150 attendees are professional writers, artists, scientists, or something else relevant. Also, I would bet that a large number of the remainder are people like me at my first LibertyCon, those who want to become professionals. It’s a great chance for us all to learn, and over the years I’ve learned a ton.

Anyway, my last panel of the weekend was Cooking Out of this World. This panel went off the rails. At least we were funny, but we were all a little tired and we strayed from the topic early and often. Todd McCaffrey did ask one interesting question that we talked about a bit but not enough, and that’s what are the environmental factors that will affect the way things taste in space? Obviously, things taste differently on airplanes, which is something airlines are already dealing with, but will be an issue for interplanetary and interstellar travel.

The last session of LibertyCon is the Bitch at Brandy session. Brandy Spraker is the chairman of the con, and she does a fantastic job. The closing ceremonies each year are a chance for people to suggest things that could be improved. Once everyone has had their chance to make comments, good and bad, about the con, she officially closes the con. They take these suggestions seriously, too, and I have seen some implemented in the four years I’ve gone.

Much of the rest of Sunday involved me finishing cleaning up after the party and doing most of my packing. I have learned that I want to stay  overnight on Sunday and leave Monday morning, but I basically pack everything but Monday’s clothes and shower stuff.

I got that done in time to join about 35 of us at a Brazilian steakhouse. I had the fortune of sitting next to a few people I knew, but had never really talked with, including Miriam Ringo, the wife of one of the best mil-sf writers around, John Ringo. What a fun and generous person she is. She had a bracelet on that I admired and thought Giulia would also like. Miriam immediately removed it and handed to me as a gift. By this point were about 3 minutes into our conversation. I was stunned by her generosity then, and still find it amazing and admirable now. Then we had a long and wonderful conversation.

Actually, everyone at dinner had a great time. It has been decided that this will be a LibertyCon Sunday evening tradition.

Following dinner was something that is already a LibertyCon tradition, the Dead Dog party. Basically, those who stay on Sunday evening eat drink as much of the leftovers as possible and play games or hang out.

Again, I had some incredible good fortune. Steve Jackson, of Steve Jackson Games, the inventor of Munchkin and a bunch of other great games, was playtesting some games and I got to join in. Steve is a wonderful and fun guy, and the rest of us had a blast tossing out ideas and picking them apart.

Getting to toss out suggestions on games, even bad ones, to a legend like Steve Jackson is definitely a highlight for me.

Around 12:30, we called it a night, and therefore the end of the con. I went to bed and left for a fairly smooth drive back. The only real excitement was seeing a collision about a half-mile ahead of me in the oncoming lane. The truck driver did a great job and controlled his 18-wheeler in the median so our lane never had to worry.

As I’ve mentioned, LibertyCon is a different beast from other cons. I will be going back there every year, though there’s some question as to when and where the next one will be.

For the four years I’ve attended, it has been at the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel, but the hotel has sold off about 80% of its rooms to make apartments / condos. Basically, while the convention space is fine, there are only rooms for about 20% of the con goers. This means many are off in the Marriott, which is not far but still puts a crimp in the con experience. Part of the fun of cons is going to room parties which are elsewhere in the hotel. Have fun, drink a few beverages, and then trundle to your room. No travel logistics to speak of. Even free shuttle buses are not a great solution, though of course those were provided.

In short, the Choo Choo simply cannot work anymore. Unfortunately, convention sites are notoriously difficult to find at times, and Brandy and her folks are casting about for a solution. I heard a rumor that a new convention hotel is getting built in Chattanooga, but will not be fully ready by summer 2018. I’m not sure if that’s true, but while they aren’t at all sure of time and place next year, or even if they might take a year off, they all seemed confident that things would be fine by 2019.

Whatever they come up with, I’ll be back.