Tag Archives: Gulf Wars

Rob’s Update: Heres-wise and Theres-wise

Week of 19-25 March

Greetings all

The title of this update is something I had fun writing in Where Now the Rider. I love playing with language, which can sometimes get me into trouble as my writing can get too poetic, but here it serves as a fun dialectical saying by a guy who works as a courier. “I’m as one who’s just wantin’ to be takin’ messages heres-wise and theres-wise and keepin’ me nose outs of things. It’s as somethin’ folk is payin’ for, see?” After the last few weeks, I’m tired of going heres-wise and theres-wise and ready to be home for a while.

Since my last update, I went to CoastCon in Biloxi, Gulf Wars in Hattiesburg, and had a bit of a writer’s retreat. I’ve listed my AARs for both events in the Recent Blog posts section. Only a couple of thousand miles this time, not four like in January, but still enough I’m glad to be home.

Most of my time has been focused on Where Now the Rider. As I mention in my Gulf AAR, I am finding that my plots are getting more complex, meaning I’m spending longer making sure the chapters are arranged properly, meaning lots of fussing with fiddly bits and fixing plot holes. I’ve made huge progress and am flowing well and I’ll have my copy to my editor by the end of next week. And this time I mean it.

One piece of exciting news is that David has invited me back to join Write Pack Radio (https://www.facebook.com/WritePackRadio/) again. In fact, we’re tentatively scheduled to have me join them for multiple episodes in 2017. I’m excited and honored that they want me back. As those tentative dates and topics get firmed up, I’ll put them here.

On my blog, I just made an entry I would love to see from some of my favorite writers do. I put up an annotated snippet from Where Now the Rider where I discuss a number of the choices I made as a writer. You can find that entry at http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=565 and I’d love some feedback if that is something you might want to see more of. Snippets, of course, but do you all want to see the annotations?

Well, that’s enough. Now back to fiddling with the fiddly bits.

Quote of the Week

Times like this when I’m pounding away I think of something Holly Lisle said. Mostly it fills me with inspiration, but there are times that the mountain I look up and see how much I need to get better fills me with desperation, but it always makes me take a harder look at what I’m writing.

Writing is a puzzle you’ll spend your lifetime unlocking. You will never know it all; you will never know enough. You can always be better, and figuring out how to be better is part of the thrill and joy of the job.

– Holly Lisle

News and Works in Progress

  • Still pounding away at Where Now the Rider

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events
Spotlight

At large SCA events, I have the opportunity to sell my books and even work on the next novel thanks to the generosity of Steve Boyd, the owner and proprietor of Calontir Trim. He sells, shockingly enough, trim for clothing by the yard. He’s got so many choices, the best way to describe them is in rhyme:

One trim
Two trim
Red trim
Blue trim
Black trim
Queue trim
Old trim
New trim
This one has a little star
This one is from afar
Say! What a lot
Of trims there are
And if you know Steve, otherwise known as Master Andrixos, you’ll know just how appropriate filking Dr. Seuss is for him. In any case, I heartily suggest you look at his offerings at www.calontirtrim.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

Gulf Wars 2017 AAR

Shall we entitle this year’s Gulf Wars Gulfcicle? Maybe so. It was definitely the coldest Gulf I’ve been to, at least until Thursday. It was colder than several Estrellas I’ve attended, and those were routinely cold.

I never get cold, but this time I did. I could not get warm it seemed. Some of this was my spot in Drix’s booth, which was covered from sunshine but allowed the wind to come in. At night, I was fine in my bed, but during the days I even had to stop typing periodically because my hands were so cold.

I could have bought a hat, or another, heavier cloak, but I hate to buy things I would rarely use. Even if it’s that cold at Gulf next year, even if I knew it would be, I would not have spent money on something I won’t use until then. I did, however, buy my sweetie two yards of heavy wool to put over my chair.

Sales were not wonderful but not bad at all. I still don’t sell as much at Gulf Wars as I do at Kris Kinder, but sales were definitely up from last year. Of course, last year I did not have the opportunity to sell during the last day, but the pace was greater than it was on the earlier days. Overall, I netted more than enough to pay for site fee and gas to and from the Gulf Wars site. This is progress, especially since many of the sales were to people I’ve never met before.

During the week I was able to make a bunch of progress on Where Now the Rider. I had hoped to finish it while in Biloxi, but it’s trickier than I expected to get this paced right.

I’ve noticed on both Where Now the Rider and I Am a Wondrous Thing that it took me much longer than expected to deal with all the fiddly bits, especially the arrangement of chapters. I think it’s because I’m becoming a better writer and have more complex plots. A Lake Most Deep has a fairly straightforward plot. The Eyes of a Doll is less so, but still not particularly complex. Neither of those required as much time messing with the pacing. I just need to expect this time and adjust my preconceptions.

At this point I have about half of it locked into place, and about another third locked into place relative to a chapter before or behind it. I have about 3.5 chapters more to write to fill in some gaps I’ve found, and then cut some because it’ll be a bit long once those are done. Not much, though, as my editors always find some bloat. Shocking, I know.

I was pleased to have a couple of really good opportunities to sing. This year, the Calontir party was the same night as Moonlight Madness, and so I did not get to attend. I came back from selling and promptly went to bed. However, Thursday and Friday were wonderful. I expected more socializing on Saturday, but only because I did not anticipate getting packed out. However, with help, I was able to be on the road at 8ish and got to a hotel room in Jackson. It was so nice to be able to make it home yesterday, which I might not have been able to do if I’d packed down in the morning.

My only other SCA-like doings at Gulf Wars was judging in the A&S championship. I don’t actually know who won the championship, but I sure think one of the entries I judged could have. The person, I don’t know who yet, did a series of experiments making pigments for scrolls using period materials and techniques. It was fabulous re-creation archaeology. I don’t like giving perfect scores to any entrant, but it was truly amazing work and I was fascinated to read the process.

I’m hoping I can get in better shape that by next year I can add fighting back into my Gulf, without costing me too much shop time. We’ll see.

Overall, Drix’s booth has been an excellent place for me. I was able to work on the book, get a lot of traffic, and have all my needs covered. Miriam, Claudia, and Thyri are fun to work with. I do need to get a more mad tunic. Be afraid, be very afraid.

I came back to home to a busy week, added on to by the fact that my garage door broke while I was gone. I’ve a guy coming to fix it tomorrow, but I’ll just deal with my laundry in a day or so.

For now, though, it’s time to get back to Where Now the Rider.

 

CoastCon AAR

Greetings all

I attended CoastCon in Biloxi, MS this weekend as part of my longer Gulf Wars trip. I’m now spending the week in Biloxi, looking out over the Gulf coast. Today the Gulf is restless with a 23mph wind out of the southeast. It’s 72, but it feels much chillier as the wind picks up water from the Gulf and carries in onshore.

Quite nice in a brisk way, actually, but it’s going to be a rainy week. My sunny days here I spent inside at the con. Ah well.

The con was quite enjoyable, if not terribly productive. It was fairly small, and I only had two panels. Hence, I had a lot of free time.

Fortunately, a couple of days ago, I read an article on Passive Voice about the difference in bookstores as opposed to comic book stores. Brick-and-mortar bookstores are dying while comic stores are often thriving. The reason, according to the writer, is the sense of community that comic stores create. Whether it’s a gaming event, or simply just to hang out and talk to other fans, people go to comic stores to just be there with friends far more than bookstores.

This struck a chord with me, in part because I totally agree with her assessment. I have not done enough to be a part of the science fiction and fantasy gaming community. This is especially silly on my part given the influence of D&D on my writing. I’m not saying only gamers will enjoy my stuff, only that gamers are likely to be some of my strongest readers, if they know I exist.

So, I’m resolved to fix that. Yes, mom, I did just find an excuse to game more often. Especially when I go to a convention and there are people I can hang out with for hours and talk about my books periodically. If I’m not on a panel, gaming is a place for me to meet people.

I know it’s obvious that gaming is a place to meet people. Oddly, it’s because gaming is something I always want to do that has held me back. I go to conventions to work, after all. So, it’s been a bit of an oversight on my part.

But this weekend convinced me I need to be more active in the gaming community, whether in KC or at a con. I spent virtually all of the weekend playing Pathfinder Society games. Pathfinder Society is just that, a society of people playing essentially D&D at cons. In other words, many times it’s the same people at a table, meaning I have a chance to make more meaningful connections. It helps that Pathfinder is one of my favorite games to play and I rarely get the opportunity.

In any case, I had a good time, but more importantly, made some connections and even sold some books immediately.

And I have some potential ideas to do some crossover things in the future.

When I wasn’t gaming, I did have two panels. Now, I must say that the way CoastCon set up their panels seemed odd to me. They consisted of one speaker, not three or four. In other words, it was me talking for an hour. More teaching a class than a collection of ideas.

Fortunately, I’ve taught a class or two here and there.

The first panel was about Blending Noir in Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’ve talked about this before and will again, but this time I had to structure it a little more precisely. I only had three attendees, which actually turned out pretty good as I pulled them close and I led them in a discussion. I think it went well.

The second panel involved adding history to fiction. I really enjoyed this one and all of the seven attendees said it worked well. What I decided to do was recount the Martin Koszta Affair of 1853 and, as I did so, look for things that could inspire plot points or worldbuilding. I’d like to do this one again, even though it does require me to be the lone panelist, or at least just me and maybe a moderator to prime the audience’s pump for questions or comments here or there.

Overall, the con itself was very small and the venue was too large. It was at the Gulf Coast Convention Center and CoastCon was only one of four events happening there this weekend. There was the Everything Embroidery convention. I’ll wait a moment for all the embroiders out there to catch their breath. Yes, there was a time when a huge embroidery convention happened in the same building as a SF/F/gaming convention happened. Yes, you could have done both, or dropped the significant other off at CoastCon.

In any case, on Saturday there was also a Monster Truck thing in the Arena, and in the end of the convention center was the Seabee Ball.

Yes, parking on Saturday sucked, why do you ask?

Not only was the parking on Saturday inconvenient, I suspect that hurt attendance at the con. I can absolutely envision some people who wanted to get a Saturday-only pass to the con coming to the parking lot, finding there’s a parking fee (which was waived for people with weekend passes to CoastCon), and deciding not to attend after all.

I don’t know that I’ll ever come back to CoastCon. I only came this year because it was the week before Gulf Wars, meaning I could drive here, stay here, and then go an hour north to the event. I used Airbnb for the first time and found a condo across from the beach for $433 for 9 days, which is even better when you factor in it has a real kitchen and a washer/dryer. It’s small, but no smaller than a hotel room and I’ve saved some money by eating in.

The schedule might work again next year, so it’s not out of the question, but it’s also true that the weekend after Gulf Wars is MidSouthCon in Memphis. I might be able to find a place in Memphis for the week or possibly crash space.

I will say I’ve enjoyed the condo here. Part of it is the idea of staying in the same place for 9 straight days. If I’m calculating correctly, this is only the second such stretch in 2017.

We’ll see how productive I am this week. Early returns are very productive, given what I’ve done since the end of the con yesterday. I think I’ve got a good shot at finishing Where Now the Rider this week. If I do, then this week has been worth the price.

I think it’s time for me to take a nap so I can write again this evening. Have a great day.

Such Friends

It’s been a Chinese curse kind of week. Very interesting. And memorable.

Every year at this time I go to Lumberton, MS to participate in Gulf Wars, a week-long SCA event. This year was extra special to me for two reasons. This was my first time working as a merchant selling my books with Master Andrixos at Calontir Trim. More importantly, two close friends got married in New Orleans the Saturday before.

The weather forecasts for the wedding, which was intended to be outside in Washington Square, were dismal. Fortunately, the weather ended up being really nice. A little sprinkling, but not much. The wedding was memorable, helped by all the lovely outfits my friends wore. I have beautiful friends, especially when they doll up all pin-up style. The best part of the wedding was Duncan singing to Gwendolyn. We all cried at that.

Then we had fun roaming the French Quarter. A pack of Calontiri on the loose. My favorite moment was sitting on one of the balconies eating hot dogs and watching my friends carouse on the street below us.

Then we get to site and things get a little more interesting. Basically, I have too much stuff. I love my setup, and I love that I can host and provide shelter for my friends, but it’s tiring at times. Anymore, I *have* to have help, and this time was provided by Uji, who did the hard work of hammering in the 20 big stakes, and Nakos, who helped me maneuver my big cooler into place.

However, despite the help of friends, I have to streamline my setup and make better plans. Fortunately, I have impetus. I’ll get to that later, along with some ideas.

I also fought, but did so very poorly because I’m out of shape. Fixing that will help with the campsite issue too, and make wars more fun for me. Yeah, I know it’s obvious. Working on it.

One thing I did change this year is that I brought less beer than I had in previous years. Part of that is the Shatto Milk Underground Railway I help with, but mostly because I don’t drink beer as much anymore. Frankly, I needed to clear out most of the IPAs in my fridge this past week because I don’t really drink them at home.

I was successful. For the first time ever, I ran out of beer and cider.

Very strange feeling for me. I’m a person who gives beer out, not asks for handouts.

Anyway, sales were slow, slower than I anticipated. Still, it’s a really productive time for me. If there’s no one there, I’m getting work done and if there is, I’m getting publicity. Again, I can’t thank Drix enough for the opportunity.

Of course the elephant in the room for Gulf Wars XXV is the microburst / tornado that hit camp on Thursday just after Calontir court. It ended the illustrious life of the Calontir Royal Pavilion and it ended the war. I was holding on for dear life to keep my tent upright, and for the most part it seems to have survived. I did have a couple of stakes pull up, but it withstood the 60plus mph winds.It provided some shelter for a number of people during the worst of it. Can’t ask more, really.

Still, it was terrifying and everything in my tent was wet.

At least it wasn’t the first microburst I’ve endured. Poor Amethyst had no previous experience, and while it’s terrifying, having been through it before at least helps one be more fatalistic about the fact that there is nothing you can do.

But after it ended, I was done. I was worried that my computer, which my ex-wife graciously allowed me to store in her store tent instead of carrying back and forth from my tent to Calontir Trim, was destroyed. I did lose some stock. I’ve not inventoried quite how many yet, but that I didn’t lose more was thanks to the quick action of Drix.

Anyway, I was done. Done with Gulf. Out of spoons. Exhausted. Angry with the universe. Pissed off. Frazzled. Scared. All of that. Did I mention done?

Fortunately, I have friends. I was able to get my car, and with the help of Conrad, Charles, Nakos, and others, we packed up my tent and I got on the road. I got home on Friday without any real issue. The I-555 / US-63 / US-60 / MO-13 / MO-7 route is getting better every year. All the stuff jumped out of the car yesterday, and some is clean, though I’m still working on that process.

I’m going to toss out some other names that helped me. It’s not an exhaustive list, just what’s coming to mind days after the events of this week. Thanks to Thyri, Miriam, Claudia, and BDR for putting up with me in Drix’s tent. Erich and Elasait for getting me some beer. Cullen and Daniel, who are real inspirations to me. I don’t know whose idea it was to have me discuss the Fyrd Box, but it was inspired.

My goal is to have 1000 unit sales, total, by the end of the year. Not much, but it would signify that I’ve got a real chance in this business. Gulfnado hurt sales and cost me stock. I’ve been down, both emotionally and physically, since the storm, despite the help I got getting off site.

But today, I had someone who I’ve never met in person complimented me on The Eyes of a Doll. Suddenly, I’m energized again. He’s not the type to give unwarranted praise, either, and he had no need to do so. Thank you, Sanford and Cedar. This is twice they’ve done this for me, as I saw her review immediately after shattering my window at Pennsic in August. If I ever become a completely successful author, it will be in large part because of you too. Thank you very much.

So, I guess there’s only one way to conclude this post, and that’s to repeat a quote I’ve said before. Were this quote not true for me, I honestly don’t know how low my life might be. Fortunately, it *is* true and I’m happily looking for the next windmill.

“Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.”
-William Butler Yeats

 

 

 

Random Musings

  • I’m learning so much about how to write each day. I’m editing A Lake Most Deep for the second edition release and I shake my head at the progress I’ve made.
  • Many thanks to Kellie for taking the time to tell me why something is right or wrong, helping me make fewer mistakes, write better, and also find times to break the rules for effect, not ignorance
  • A Lake Most Deep, v2.0 will be a vast improvement but won’t seriously change anything, for those who’ve read it before. It’s mostly better formatting and a better working relationship with my editor. Beth, who edited it the first time, did a fine job, but I still do not really know her. I’ve known Kellie for years and that is a great help to me. Much more collaborative.
  • I’m facing some technical challenges to the big thing I want to announce, so it is delayed, but still coming. I want it to be right before putting it out there.
  • I’ve not liked the NBA for a long time. Frankly, it’s boring basketball, and I’ve long since enjoyed soccer so much more than basketball because it’s more exciting in general. Steph Curry is changing that for me. He might very well be the most skillful basketball player ever. Not the most dominant, that is Wilt Chamberlain, but the most skillful. He has changed the game in a way we’ll only fully understand in retrospect.
  • All that being said about basketball, the one and done format of March Madness, especially on opening weekend, is truly one of the best things ever.
  • I really hope Ron Baker and Fred van Vleet have one more great run in them. Obviously I mean that because I’m a Wichita State fan, but also because I think they’re great kids.
  • I am looking forward to Gulf Wars, and in some ways I’m more excited than I have been in several years. However, it’s becoming more and more an afterthought to…
  • Ealdormere Coronation and Ad-Astra. I’ll be on panels at Ad-Astra, with maybe a reading. That all is a huge step up for me. I’m also going to swing by my grandparents house in Teeswater, which is fairly close to Underwood and Coronation. I’m also contemplating doing something stupid, and going around the Great Lakes. I know it’s much longer, but there’s so much to see.
  • The NFL draft talk is approaching. People keep talking about what Dallas should do, so I will too. Dallas should trade pick 4 for something like pick 8-10 in 2016 plus a 1st in 2017 and some others. The draft chart numbers work for this. The question is whether the Cowboys should take a QB (my preference is Carson Wentz) as a successor to Romo or get better players to surround him. This way you get better players *and* put the Cowboys in position to get a successor next year.
  • Rob’s rule of thumb when trading high picks. Always trade down. More picks means a better chance to get a productive player.

Off to go through a car wash on a lovely day.

Where Now the Rider

Well, I’ve been puttering away with several projects and things are going well.

Some convention announcements and reminders. I’ll be going to Gulf Wars in a few weeks and will have books for sale and autograph at Calontir Trim. Swing on by. Also, I’ll be at Ad-Astra at the end of April. I’ll be serving on panels for the first time there, and will probably have a reading as well. Also exciting is a creator table at KC Planet Comicon. Come see Stan Lee and Alan Tudyk, and then buy my books. Exciting stuff.

Speaking of books, my editor is working on two projects for me, so while she’s doing that I’ve started the third Edward book, which I’m entitling Where Now the Rider. Let’s just say that Andreyev, Gibroz’s lieutenant, is not the only criminal interested in horseracing.

I’ve also been working on a major thing in the background. Next week, I hope to announce what I’m doing. Hopefully, it will make both reading  and writing my books easier.

More to come soon. c