Tag Archives: Here Must We Hold

Rob’s Update: 2019 in Review

Greetings all

2019 was my best year ever. Thanks to all the readers who supported my writing throughout the year. It couldn’t have happened without you.

Things I published in 2019:

I’m incredibly pleased at the success of these stories. Four of those, including all 3 Phases of Mars anthologies and The Feeding of Sorrows, earned at least one orange tag.

An orange tag on Amazon signifies it’s a bestseller. Now I can add “Amazon Bestselling Author” to my bio. That’s pretty darn awesome.

I’m also pleased that I still love all six of these tales. I am never pleased with the quality of writing in any of my past stories, because with each new one I get better. However, the tales are all good. I know this because I still cry at the end of each one.

If I don’t get emotional reading my stuff, I can’t expect you to do so either. I still get emotional on all of them.

The biggest negative of 2019 is that I didn’t get None Call Me Mother published. I had even hoped to make progress on Edward 4, but that was always only a faint hope.

Despite that, I’m not displeased with my writing output. I’m up to 93k on None Call Me Mother, so it’s getting close. I chose to write The Feeding of Sorrows instead and it was a great decision.

I also chose to follow Bill Fawcett’s advice. He said to me at LibertyCon in 2018 that I should write more short stories. I’d be an idiot if I didn’t pay attention to him. I may yet be an idiot, but not about this.

My goal is two or three novels a year and four or more short stories. I came really close if I count the words I actually wrote in 2019. I wrote about 75k of The Feeding of Sorrows and about 20k towards its sequel. I wrote about 80k in None Call Me Mother in 2019. I also worked on a couple of special projects I’ll announce when I post my look ahead to 2020. All told, I submitted six short stories (one yet to come), and wrote about 175k of long fiction. 230k or so of fiction is not shabby.

I did this despite not taking care of myself. Following Pennsic, I spent 5-6 weeks in a funk. This was driven initially by fatigue, because I traveled a ton this past summer. Then my brain weasels got involved, chastising me for not being productive, and that spiraled down.

Fortunately, I recovered in time to complete all of the items I had promised to various editors. Had I paid attention to myself, though, I believe I would have finished None Call Me Mother. Ah, well.

I have adjustments planned for 2020. One challenge of being self-employed is that I have to play mental games with myself to keep me from doing stupid stuff, like losing those 5-6 weeks.

I went to a number of fantastic events in 2019. This was my first year as a vendor on my own at Gulf Wars. Drix and I also expanded our booth at Pennsic, and this is exciting. LibertyCon was wonderful and emotional. FantaSci went great, not great for a first time con, but great. So great I’m choosing it over Gulf Wars and Planet Comicon in 2020.

I did all these things while also getting the opportunity to serve as Their Majesty Calontir’s herald in the first half of the year. I love doing that job. Thanks to Donnghal and Catalina for giving me that opportunity. And yes, you totally got me.

My sweetie and I did a bunch of work to the house. We replaced around 1000 sq. ft. of carpet with bamboo. I love this stuff. Nice on my feet and pretty. We also started a new additional closet in the master suite, which had a ton of useless inefficient space.

The closest thing to a true negative are my tracked items, I spun my wheels a bit. I gained a little weight, though I’ve made it through most of the holidays without gaining much extra. My tracked word count, which includes only those things I actually released to the editor or on my blog, would have exceeded my goal had I managed to get None Call Me Mother to my editor, but of course will fall short in its actual number.

My wiki suffered a hacking attack in the spring. I have recovered most of the lost things, but I plan on redoing most entries. I learned a ton working on the 4HU wiki for nearly a year that I intend on incorporating. I’ll talk about that in my 2020 post.

These are my end results. I’ll work on improving them all in 2020.

Today’s Weight: 395.2

Updated Word Count: 146,912

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

I have so many people to thank. I’m going to take a crack at it, but will undoubtedly forget some people. But here’s what I can think of right now with a cat demanding petsies.

Mom, sweetie, and proto-incipient step-daughter come first. Living with a writer ain’t easy.

Chris Kennedy gave me a bunch of opportunities. I can’t thank him enough. James L. Young let me write in all 3 Phases of Mars, and those are good stories. Jamie Ibson let me break his soul in We Dare. Mark Wandrey kept encouraging me, especially his help in the 4HU. Kevin Ikenberry helped a ton with the Peacemaker aspects of my 4HU stuff. Frankly, let’s just thank all of the crew that Chris has gathered about him. They’re all making me better.

Kellie Hultgren did a great job editing my personal stuff and teaching me how to become a better writer. The staff at Brewbakers put up with me, and I rewarded them with tuckering it in “Silent Knight.”

Drix helped me grow my SCA sales presence. Tons of people encouraged me. One even allowed me to stay at her family’s lake house for a week of writing and solitude. I need to schedule this sort of thing once or twice a year.

Despite not getting None Call Me Mother out and spinning my wheels a bit, 2019 was definitely my best year so far. And it’s not close.

I’m growing leaps and bounds as a writer. My most recent project has helped me turn things I knew instinctively into things I understand. This is already showing up in None Call Me Mother and in “Silent Knight,” not to mention my earlier growth in 2019.

2019 was my best year.

2020 will be better. Lot’s better. We’re building something here and I will tell you all about what’s coming in a few days.

For now, though. Thanks to all of you. I really appreciate it.

Happy New Year!

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

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Rob’s Update: Trouble in the Wind

Week 49 of 2019

Greetings all

Trouble in the Wind is live! Sixteen stories of ground warfare that might have been. My story is “Here Must We Hold” about the Battle of Maldon.

You can find an excerpt of my story here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1899.

Trouble in the Wind
Trouble in the Wind

I’m quite pleased with the story. I’m honored to have been given the opportunity to contribute. I’m absolutely stoked I get to be in a book with David Weber, Kevin J. Anderson, and S.M. Stirling, among others.

I made some progress on None Call Me Mother. Much of it wasn’t in words written, but rather cleaning up. I’m at that stage where I need to go back through it all to firm up the earlier chapters, fill in some connections, and make sure I’m ready for the final chapters.

What I mostly did was write another short story. I’ll tell you all about it when it’s about to go out the door. I also made progress on another project. All in all, a good week, even if it doesn’t show up in the raw numbers.

I also spent a goodly amount of time cleaning house. This is Kris Kinder Weekend, which means I have a big sales event then host everyone after the event.

It’s one of my favorite weekends of the year, but I’ll be exhausted on Sunday. It’s a fair trade.

What I’m Listening To

La Villa Strangiato by Rush. Such a great song.

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote is the inspiration for my story’s title. Thanks to Rosalind Jehanne for granting me permission to use it.

Here must we hold     So hearken to my counsel
Felled is our lord     Slain by foemen on the field
Now we must honor     The oaths we made in mead-hall
Now we must shoulder     The burden of his shield
– Rosalind Jehanne

It’s one of my favorite songs. You can find the complete lyrics to her song here: http://www.calonsong.org/CalontirSongs/battleofmaldon.htm

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (86,645)
  • CB (8,418)
  • SK (6,874)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on all of the great authors who participated in Trouble in the Wind. Again, you can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B082K73QPD. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Today’s Weight: 396.4

Updated Word Count: 216,398

Shijuren Wiki: 874 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
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Other Short Stories

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

Excerpt: Here Must We Hold

Here’s an excerpt from my story Here Must We Hold in Trouble in the Wind: I hope you all enjoy it.

****

Wulfstan, son of Ceola, waited for the tide to ebb so blood could flow.

Across Panta Channel, on Northey Island, Danes lined the shore waving axes, swords, and spears, yelling curses mostly carried away by the freshening breeze from the shore. At low tide, a causeway connected Northey Island with the mainland just southeast of the town of Maldon. Northern raiders preferred such islands because they needed only a small guard to protect their ships.

“They say there are nearly a hundred ships,” hissed Godric, Odda’s son.

“So?”

“That’s at least three thousand warriors!”

“And there’s three thousand fyrd with us, not including our brother thegns and all the house-carls of Essex.”

Godric looked in amazement. “They’re but farmers. Hardly a byrnie amongst them and all they bear are cheap spearheads on ash-wood poles.”

“Then those of us who have taken rings from Byrhtnoth must fight all the better.” Wulfstan strode forward to the edge of the causeway, leaving Godric behind.

Byrhtnoth, son of Byhrthelm, Ealdorman of Essex, already waited at the edge. Two hands and more greater than six feet, with hair white as a swan, he looked down at his newest thegn. “Do you think you can hold against them all at the water’s edge, boy?”

Wulfstan considered the causeway, then shook his head. “No, lord. I’ll need two others.”

The ealdorman laughed. “Very well. Aelfhere and Maccus, you stand with the boy.”

“As long as he does all the work,” said Aelfhere. “I’m too old for this.”

“As am I,” said Maccus with a matching grin.

One of the Danes, shorter, broader, but with lithe, quick steps moved forward and sent a blast from a horn across the channel. With all eyes upon him, he yelled, “You! The tall one with the white hair. Are you the Byrhtnoth we’ve heard of?”

The ealdorman stepped to the channel’s edge. “I am. And who are you?”

“Olaf, son of Tryggvi, jarl of these men.” He gestured at the host behind him. “As you can see, they thirst for the fight.” He smiled. “However, if you send us rings of gold and hauberks of steel then we’ll see no need for the spear-rush. Indeed, a day as beautiful as this is one for sailing. If you give us these gifts, we’ll grant a truce and then enjoy the wind and spray of the sea.”

“Of you I’ve heard, and I’ve no doubt of your word. Here is my answer.” Byrhtnoth grasped his shield and lifted his spear. “Spears of ash we shall give you, and swords of steel as well, yet only their edges and their points. Tell your folk that here stands a good earl with loyal thegns and the fyrd about him. To our king, Aethelred, we have sworn oaths, and this land we shall defend no matter that we may fall.”

Rob’s Update: Fitzalan to Arundel

Week 46 of 2019

Greetings all

I’m a day late on this blog post but I thought that might happen. We had plans last night and I was not able to get the update done before we left.

What did we do? Well, I’m glad you asked. After our first date, I invited my sweetie to go see Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood live. They basically do a longer form version of Whose Line is it Anyway, which allows them to do some improved versions of some games and also some other games that are just too long to do in the TV format.

Colin and Brad with my Sweetie
Colin and Brad with my Sweetie

Unfortunately, my sweetie wasn’t able to join me. It was really a shame because I had even gotten the meet & greet tickets. They shook our hands, exchanged a few words, and took a picture. After they took my picture, I explained that my sweetie couldn’t come and I asked if they would take this picture.

Immediately after the show, I texted my sweetie that picture. This was a moment of truth. If she laughed a lot, there was a definite chance for us to last. If she didn’t, well, better to know then.

She laughed. A lot. Still does.

So last night Colin and Brad were in town and we finally got to have our second date. Sadly, there weren’t meet and greet tickets, probably because they’re in Naperville, IL tonight. However, we had a wonderful time. They are really good at this and they have a brilliant way of keeping threads winding through the show. If you have a chance, you should go at least once. The truth is, you can go every night since every show is different.

That was a great conclusion to a good week here. I made a lot of progress with None Call Me Mother. I’m aiming to get a draft to the editor by the end of the year. If I keep going like I am that’ll happen. I worry about the holidays distracting me, but it doesn’t look like we’re going on any long trips.

With the help of my editor Kellie Hultgren, I figured out a problem that’s been nagging at me on a short story. It’s a subtle thing, as the story has a bunch of good elements, but I forgot the Rule of Three. The conclusion seemed tacked on, when in fact I aimed for it all along. That’s an easy fix and I should have that story to the editor by Thanksgiving.

Speaking of short stories, my story Here Must We Hold will come out on 13 December as part of Trouble In the Wind. This is the third of the Phases of Mars military alternate history anthologies and focuses on land combat. I don’t know if James Young and Chris Kennedy will do more, but I’ve had a blast writing these and hope to do more. The first two, Far Better to Dare and In Dark’ning Storms could quite easily be the basis for many more stories. I couldn’t quite get a land story that worked for me, but there are more sea and air stories waiting to happen.

Today, we started putting finishing touches on the floor in the great room. All that’s left is some touch up on the quarter-round, putting in the thresholds, and putting back the outlet covers. Since the bookcases all got moved, we’re also cleaning and oiling the wood-paneled walls. Tomorrow we’ll start putting bookcases back in.

An exciting week as we get closer to things getting done.

What I’m Listening To

I made a slight change here. Many times of late it’s been something other than a song on my playlist so I’m changing the title to match reality.

Anyway, right now, I’m listening to my usual on fall Saturday sort of thing, a college football game. Right now it’s SMU v. Navy. I love watching Navy play. In fact, I love watching every triple option team play. There’s a gorgeous ballet in that offense. It’s limited and only works now because so few run it, but it’s so fun when executed well. It’s perfect for the service academies because it relies on discipline and execution more than athleticism.

Quote of the Week

Today is the birthday of William Fitzalan, 9th earl of Arundel. Who? A player in the War of the Roses, and a name I’m intimately familiar with because of the game Kingmaker. If you’ve played the game, this quote will be quite familiar.

“Piracy: Fitzalan to Arundal, Beaufort to Corfe
Killed: Cromwell, Graystoke
4-1 Victory”
– Kingmaker Card

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (76,951)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AFS (8,163)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on William Joseph Roberts, who just released a new book called fLUX Runners. You can find the interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1845 and the book at: https://www.amazon.com/fLUX-Runners-William-Joseph-Roberts-ebook/dp/B081M3XKBV/.

Today’s Weight: 394.4

Updated Word Count: 196,635

Shijuren Wiki: 874 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
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
Short Stories

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

Rob’s Update: Venturing to Carry

Week 45 of 2019

Greetings all

It’s been a good week here. I wrote over 8000 words overall, which is more than I’ve been able to crank out in a week in a while. I’m definitely regaining the rhythm I had in the spring.

The big chunk of writing was major progress in None Call Me Mother. I broke the 70k mark today, and I made progress in multiple threads. Some days it’s a fight to get words going on one thread, but today, the writing prompted me to make sure I filled in a blank in another, which led to another.

That’s always fun.

I also added 800 or so words to Here Must We Hold. This was my submission for Trouble in the Wind, the next entry in the Phases of Mars series of alternate military history. Unlike Far Better to Dare and In Dark’ning Storms, this story is set in Anglo-Saxon England. I am pleased to announce that it has been accepted and these new words were actually historical notes.

For a moment, writing those notes, I sort of felt like Bernard Cornwell. That was fun too.

Tonight it’s puttering around the house, watching the Blues play, and drinking Beer Barrel Bourbon. It’s actually one of my favorite bourbons and I’ve been frustrated because I couldn’t find it. Tonight, I was disappointed not to see it yet again. Then I started looking at all the choices, trying to figure out something to try.

Turns out they changed not just the label, but the bottle shape as well. I probably just didn’t see it… again and again. But I have some now, and guess what? Good bourbon is yet more fun.

Y’all have a good week.

Current Playlist Song

The dulcet tones of John Kelly, Bernie Federko, and Darren Pang calling the Blues game. It’s 2-2 in the 3rd at the moment.

Side note: I’ve been a fan of the Blues since, frankly, a terrifying moment in the Kiel Center in 1988 or so. I never really thought anything about them going into last year’s playoffs. A friend of mine who’s a big hockey fan said before they won their first series that he actually thought they had a real chance. I thought he was crazy. He might have been, but one Stanley Cup later, he’s my kind of crazy.

Quote of the Week

In 534 on this day, Justinian published his law code. It’s one of the great legal documents of history. Here’s the first section.

“The Emperor Justinian to the Senate of the City of Constantinople. Those things which seem to many former Emperors to require correction, but which none of them ventured to carry into effect, We have decided to accomplish at the present time with the assistance of Almighty God; and to diminish litigation by the revision of the multitude of constitutions which are contained in the Three Codes; namely, the Gregorian, the Hermogenian, and the Theodosian, as well as in those other Codes promulgated after them by Theodosius of Divine Memory, and by other Emperors, who succeeded him, in addition to those which We Ourselves have promulgated, and to combine them in a single Code, under Our auspicious name, in which compilation should be included not only the constitutions of the three above-mentioned Codes, but also such new ones as subsequently have been promulgated.”
– Justinian (Codex Justinianeus, Preface)

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (70,029)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AFS (8,088)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is once again on J.F. Holmes and his new shared world, JTF 13. You can find his interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1814 and JTF 13: Origins at: https://www.amazon.com/ORIGINS-Joint-Task-Force-Anthology-ebook/dp/B07YR4QR18/.

Today’s Weight: 392.4

Updated Word Count: 189,665

Shijuren Wiki: 874 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
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
Short Stories

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

Rob’s Update: Beneath, Between, and Behind

Week 43 of 2019

Greetings all

I hope everyone had a happy Halloween. The proto-incipient stepdaughter and I celebrated it in our entryway. She dressed up as Harley Quinn and handed out candy. I set up the laptop so we could watch the 49ers play the Cardinals. The 49ers are one of her teams, by the way, so we were going to watch the game somewhere, and this way we reward the hardy travelers on a chilly night.

Speaking of sports, congratulations to the Washington Nationals for winning the World Series. One thing I love about baseball is that it doesn’t always make sense. The home field disadvantage was something we’ll probably never see again. The home team losing every game? Crazy.

Probably happen again next year just because the whimsies of the baseball Furies like toying with us.

It’s been a pretty good week here. I sent off the final copy of  my contribution for the third Phases of War anthology. Unlike Far Better to Dare and In Dark’ning Storms, this story is set in Anglo-Saxon England.

Then, after that, I got about 4000 words written in None Call Me Mother. I realized at one point that I had unconsciously done something exactly in the way I wanted, but didn’t know I wanted. I’ll explain this in more detail once the book is released, but serendipity raised its lovely head.

Side note: Serendipity is one of my favorite words. Serendipitously, it is smooth and mellifluous. As is mellifluous, by the way.

Another side note: Playing with words is one great part of writing. I get to look up etymologies, play with sounds, and hunt for just the right connotation. I may not always succeed, but I love the chase.

Current Playlist Song

As usual, since over half of my writing playlist are Rush songs, this week I’m listening to Beneath, Between, and Behind from their first album.

Quote of the Week

To follow up on the weirdness of this year’s World Series, here’s a perfect quote by Thomas Boswell.

“More than any other American sport, baseball creates the magnetic, addictive illusion that it can almost be understood.”
Thomas Boswell

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (approx. 62,047)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AFS (8,088)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Rich Weyand. This guy just keeps plugging away. He recently completed the second trilogy in his Empire series. You can find the interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1797. Also, you can find his Amazon page at: https://www.amazon.com/Richard-F-Weyand/e/B00MC5VJW4.

Today’s Weight: 391.6

Updated Word Count: 183,849

Shijuren Wiki: 874 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
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
Short Stories

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