Tag Archives: I Am a Wondrous Thing

Mar – Silver Hammer

Greetings all

It’s become apparent that I’m too distracted by something on Sunday nights to regularly add scroll texts, so I’m just going to add them whenever I feel like it.

This particular text was given out last weekend at Calontir’s Crown Tournament. It’s a Silver Hammer for Mar, who lost in the finals to His Highness Damien MacGavin. The Silver Hammer is an award given to people who are skilled craftsmen in things like woodworking, brewing, metalwork, smithing, and such. In Mar’s case it was his crafting of musical instruments and coronets.

One of the most fun aspects of writing scroll texts for me is forcing myself to write in a poetic style that is not my normal style. My normal style, by the way, is Old English alliterative, as shown by the riddle at the end of I Am a Wondrous Thing.

Whenever I am asked to write a text for someone, my first question is, “What is their persona?” In other words, what time and place do they focus on? This tells me what poetic styles I should research in order to write a poem that suits the recipient. Mar’s persona is that of a Varangian, hence his award would come from a Byzantine emperor. So I look around at Byzantine poetic styles and in this case, I chose the 15-syllable iambic Byzantine epic style. Some choices are easier than others. Some are not. This was not.

As a side note, I am often asked why I don’t tend to write scroll texts in a more legal style. After all, these are legal documents. My answer is that legalese is legalese is legalese. The function of legal documents creates a dry structure that transcends time and place. I just think that poetry allows me the option of doing something far cooler than legalese. I can write in legalese, and I have, often enough, but it’s not my preference.

Anyway, back to Mar’s Silver Hammer text. Here it is, with some annotations. Like my annotated snippets, the annotations are indented and italicized.

Mar – Silver Hammer

Arrayed in heartland’s tagma are proud valiant cataphractoi

Tagma is a word meaning elite soldiers, like the Tagma ton Varangoi. Combined with the word cataphract, which is heavy armored cavalry, I’m referring to the chivalry of Calontir.

Ashir its Basileus strong leads spears and swords a-glitter

Its Basilissa Ashland rides beside as falcons soar high

Basileus and Basilissa are the words for Emperor and Empress.

Such that bold topoteretes like Már í Miklagarði,

Topoteretes is a leader in the tagma, again, a reference to him being a knight.

So deadly foes away full seven hundred paces fear him,

In Calontir’s constellation slight single star afar seem

But Warriors do not make realms whole, as known by rulers wise all

So clever Basileus grand and bright-eyed Basilissa

Bright-eyed here is a reference to Athena, which is totally anachronistic even for Byzantine but I thought it was fun.

Rejoice in Calontir adorned with elegance and honor,

Aflame in golden glories great and gowns in pearls bedecked fine

The rulers Chrysotriklinos well cherish all such treasure

Chrysotriklinos is the grand reception hall of the Great Palace of Constantinople. In this case, it’s a reference to Their Majesties.

Rewarding craftsmen skilled with gold and favors of the purple

In Byzantine times the purple was a reference to the Emperor. It seems to perfect not to use as a phrase for someone in Calontir getting something.

But certain jewels glittering surprise august Sebastoi

Ton Sebaston is a way to refer to the Emperor. In this case, I pluralized it to refer to both of Calontir’s Majesties. Also, the certain jewels is a reference to Mar’s metalwork.

And melodies radiant afloat from strings and woodcraft carved fair

A reference to some musical instruments Mar has made.

The artisan so skilled is known for dire hands sinister strong

Beloved of deathless northern rose and treasure of the falcon

So Calon Autokrators keen, the lords of running horses,

Autokrator is yet another term for Emperor, and lords of running horses is a reference to Their Mongol personas.

To Már í Miklagarði grant the title vestitor proud

Vestitors were officials of the Imperial wardrobe, and later this became a fairly low honorary title. They were also the wardens of the Imperial crown. Seemed like an appropriate Byzantine analogue for the Silver Hammers.

As called in Mar’s far northern home a skillful Silver Hammer.

Before all dignities whether proclaimed or once awarded

Titles in the Byzantine Empire were deemed proclaimed or awarded.

In Basileia ton Rhomaion, They decree forever

The Basileia ton Rhomaion was the Roman Empire.

Where Now the Rider Annotated Snippet 2

Here’s another annotated snippet. It picks up where the first snippet, which you can find at http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=56 concludes.

As before, I’ll add occasional annotations indented and italicized.

Morning, 1 Hjerstmoanne, 1712 MG

I followed her to a long, low, rambling building running along a ridge around Achrida. It served as the primary home of the Mrnjavcevic family, the leading clan of the Dassaretae, one of the two tribes that had squabbled for control of Achrida for centuries.

The Dassaretae was an actual tribe in the Balkans. It’s not a particularly well-known one, though, and it seemed a cool name so I chose it as one of the tribes. The same goes for the Mrnjavcevic family. Even though I’m writing fantasy novels, I love researching history too much to not steal fun names and places.

The old woman who guarded the door had never liked me. The look on her face made it clear I remained unworthy to sully her honored halls, but she allowed me to enter without comment. Vukasin had probably told her to expect me. She led us through the labyrinth of rooms and hallways.

“How big is this place, anyway?”

This exchange is a bit of foreshadowing that becomes important later in the book. Readers of Where Now the Rider will see where it comes into play.

Piri gave me a sly smile, but otherwise ignored me. Eventually we reached and the polished oak door that led to Vukasin’s sitting room and office. The grim doorwarden, knocked and opened the door at his response, not quite lifting her nose up at me. Not quite.
Vukasin sat at his desk, his hands full of various papers. He was a short man, but wide and powerful. His eyes were the color of basalt, which seemed appropriate to me, as he was as strong and deliberate as the mountains. The Zupan of the Dassaretae needed such strength, I guessed.

The historical Vukasin Mrnjavcevic was a general and later the military governor of a part of modern Macedonia. Interestingly, Marko Mrnjavcevic, his son, becomes the Prince Marko of Serbian legend that I refer to often in these novels.

“Sevener. I expected you, but not so soon. Still, I’m told many things have happened.”

“Yes, Zupan. It seemed wiser to come sooner rather than later. I know I owe you a great debt, and I would not have you think I am not grateful.”

Zupan is an another historical term. An easy place to use something different besides leader or ruler. 

“I know you are not ungrateful. I would never have worked with you had I thought you were.”

“I appreciate your trust in me.”

“You’re welcome. Maja, pour us some water.” He waved at the chairs before his desk. Piri and I sat while Maja went to a sideboard and poured goblets of cold lakewater sweetened with pomegranate. I took a sip before beginning.

There’s a scene in A Lake Most Deep where Svetislav rows Edward out into the lake to discuss the Gropa Council. In that scene, Svetislav handed Edward a mug to dip lakewater out to drink. That actually happened to me in Ohrid. I took a short boat cruise into the lake and the captain handed out a couple of cheap mugs for us to drink from the lake. It was, in fact, delicious, and that’s why I make such a point of it in these novels.

“I don’t know entirely what you know, but here are the basics.”

He waved a dismissive hand. “I knew almost everything yesterday. The people who tried to intimidate Honker Harald and his family after his daughter found one of Gibroz’s thugs dead near Biljana’s Springs were led by Markov, one of Gibroz’s lieutenants.”

“I’m not surprised. You supplied all the people who got the information, after all.”

“Yes. And you used them well.”

I shrugged. “Markov was working for the Emperor.”

“I suspected that was the case.” Vukasin’s nostrils flared, but otherwise, he expressed no emotion at the news that his lord had betrayed him.

Obviously, this is my way of summing up The Eyes of a Doll. I hate exposition, and in some ways it’s not relevant to Where Now the Rider, however, it’s part of Edward’s character development, which I touch upon in the following paragraph.

In my homeland, thegns would have flocked to his banner to avenge that betrayal. My mind filled with memories of looking across the field at thegns who had done just that for Cynric when his son, Penwulf, my lord, had betrayed him. My father had fought under Cynric’s banner on that day, and I had killed him.

Vukasin cleared his throat and I returned to the moment.

“He wanted a war between Ylli of Lezh and Gibroz so that you could not have a base of power against him,” I said.

More foreshadowing, in a way. Let me just say I’m perfectly willing for you all to remember the Emperor’s paranoia. It could be a reoccurring theme. Could be.

“Or Vesela.”

“Yes, or her.”

Vukasin smiled. “This is Achrida. Things change. Yes, we Dassaretae are more prominent now, but never underestimate the Enchelei, even if it has only been a few months since you exposed Pal and his crime. Vesela may not have expected to take over as zupan so soon, but she helped lead the Enchelei all her life.”

The Gropa and Enchelei are, like the Mrnjavcevics and Dassaretae, historical.

I nodded, quiet again for a moment, then looking deep in Vukasin’s eyes. “I’m sorry for those who died.”

His black eyes turned even darker. “I know. I am too.”

We sat with our memories for a moment.

“You didn’t kill them, though,” continued Vukasin. “That was the Emperor’s people.”

“I suppose.”

“Welcome to the Empire.” Piri’s face bore that sardonic smile again.

“Thanks.”

“And today I think I know everything,” Vukasin said as he leaned back.

“What have you learned now?”

“I learned that you are prompt in paying your debts. That’s not an insignificant thing in this city.”

“I have no doubt,” I said sarcastically. “What else?”

“I wasn’t sure about Gabrijela.”

I looked at my hands. Eventually I added, “Yes, Gabrijela was helping the Emperor.”

“And her fate?”

“She’s gone. Sebastijan is taking her to the Great City.”

“We just watched them leave before coming here,” added Piri.

“So now what?” Vukasin stared at me.

“I think I’ll go back to the Faerie and get drunk.”

Vukasin chuckled. “While I agree that’s an excellent idea, I was thinking a little more into the future. You stopped in Achrida on the way to serve the Emperor. I got Piri’s message this morning that you’re not going to serve him now. Where will you go?”

“I wish I knew. I suppose I could go back to Ivan Yevgenich. He’s been dealing with Demmenkreisen for a year now. Or maybe somewhere else in the Kreisens. The Periaslavlans have noticed more than the usual raiding all along the Rueckenberge.”

“But?”

“His izba isn’t where I really want to spend the rest of my life, as good a man as he is.” I shook Raakel’s ghost out of my mind. “And in the Kreisens I’d have to serve some lordling raiding villages. I don’t know of a single one of them as worthy of my service as Penwulf, and he was an oathbreaker and a fool.”

This is an example of the synergy of writing I Am a Wondrous Thing. I actually really like these paragraphs. It lets me build a whole world around Achrida while still being focused on Edward.

It’s also an example of serendipity. When I started writing Wondrous Thing I had no intention of putting Edward into it. Then I realized I had already done so in A Lake Most Deep and he had to make a cameo. Even though I didn’t intend it, his appearance strengthens these Edward books.

Another note about Edward in Wondrous Thing. I actually struggled to write his part because I kept putting myself too much into his head, especially since I did not want him a POV character.

“The Old Empire? Or Matara? Take the trade route across the lakes and see fair Markanda and points east?”

“Perhaps.” I shrugged. “Vukasin. I just don’t know. After I get drunk I’ll talk with Piri and Zoe about it.”

Vukasin rested his dark eyes on me without saying anything. I watched dust float through a sunbeam sneaking through Vukasin’s shuttered window. Piri made no motion.

I intend for the Adventures of Edward Aethelredson to be a recurring series where readers don’t have to have read the earlier books to enjoy the story. And in general, I think I succeeded.

However, there’s no doubt that these first three are tied together for the reason that I detailed in the last snippet. Taken together, they will make Achrida Edward’s home.

Rob’s Update: Waiting for Spring

Week of 26 March – 1 April

Greetings all

Saturday will be the memorial for my dad. Yes, April 1st. Given his love for dad jokes, it seemed appropriate. Besides, it was a day the church had open. I’ll be saying something. Not sure what something yet. What does one say, really? I can figure out that Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch is probably inappropriate. As is just about anything from the Holy Grail. Beyond that? I’m sure I’ll come up with something, but I may not even know until I’m standing up there.

Glad the SCA has given me a lot of experience talking in front of people.

It’s been a productive week. Where Now the Rider is at the stage where I’m going through and inserting clues and red herrings so there’s a proper trail of bread crumbs. The goal, of course, is for you to have the possibility to figure out the villain, but make it very difficult.

My editor can take it at the end of April, so I’m going to finish a draft next week, take a break for a week or so, then polish it for a week before sending it to Kellie.

What I’ve done since I’ve taken my foot off that pedal is to start seriously plotting books 2 & 3 of the Kreisens series, the series that started with I Am a Wondrous Thing. The working titles will be Brief is My Flame and None Call Me Mother. These are working titles and might change, but I like them, especially with some of the tribulations Irina and Eleonore are going to face. I’m plotting both of them, by the way, because when writing I Am a Wondrous Thing I sort of floundered about in terms of pacing. I’m still mostly a pantser (a writer who writes by the seat of his pants), but at least having a basic outline might help. I’ve had nebulous ideas all along, but I want to firm them up some.

Of course, I’ll change them all the time. But at least they’ll be something I *know* I’m changing.

Anyway, that’s enough for now.
Quote of the Week
I may or may not get anything done on Monday the 3rd. Just warning you. In my mind, the first Monday in April (sometimes the last Monday in March) should be a national holiday. It’s baseball Opening Day, and I’m only halfway joking about the national holiday thing.

Opening Day has a magic about it. It’s a day of comfort, a sure sign of the end of winter and a return of the poetry of the game. It’s a day of hope, because on that day every team is in the playoff race and every fan can imagine a way, if things come together just right, their team can make it to the playoffs, and if that happens, who knows?
On Opening Day, though, it’s fresh again. Checking box scores has not yet become routine again. It’s like sleeping in your own bed for the first time after a long trip. You know it’ll become part of the routine again, and you’ll like it then too, but not with the snuggly, burrowing feel of that first night.

Why not have a holiday celebrating comfort, hope, and the return of spring?

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”
– Rogers Hornsby

News and Works in Progress

  • Finishing Where Now the Rider
  • Plotting Brief is My Flame and None Call Me Mother
Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Nothing new this week. I’ll be adding a batch of updates to the wiki to catch up with things in Where Now the Rider.
Upcoming Events
Spotlight
I listen to a lot of folk metal like Tyr, Korpiklaani, and Tengger Cavalry. Not surprisingly, I often fall into the rabbit hole of YouTube going from band-to-band. One of the things I love is the use of medieval and traditional instruments in hard-driving music. This past week I ran into Sventoyar, a Ukrainian folk metal band who has a person routinely playing the hammered dulcimer. It will come as no surprise to many that amongst my friends in the SCA is a professional hammered dulcimer player.
Since I teased him that Sventoyar might have supplanted him as my favorite musical act with a hammered dulcimer, this week my spotlight is on Vince Conaway. He’s a fantastic musician, and one of the great parts of Gulf Wars to me was working in Drix’s shop when he was playing nearby.

Anyway, you can find his stuff at: http://www.vinceconaway.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

Where Now the Rider Annotated Snippet 1

Greetings all

As I’m getting closer to having Where Now the Rider, I thought I’d release some of it into the wild. I also think it might be interesting to you if I annotated some of my thoughts as to why I made some  of the choices I did.

This first snippet is the start of Chapter 1. I’ll add annotations indented and in italics.

Early Morning, 1 Hjerstmoanne, 1712 MG

Many of you will remember that The Eyes of a Doll ended on 30 Heamoanne. This is the very next day. I could, obviously, have chosen a different day to start, but I think this scene is important for Edward, as you’ll see.

Unfortunately, that provided me with a challenge. Edward is wounded at the end of The Eyes of a Doll and he cannot have healed fully in a day. That meant that whatever his next adventure would be it required him to be capable of handling while not fully healthy, at least at the start. I actually have 10-15k of the next novel written because what I started with required him to be fully healthy at the beginning. Where Now the Rider became a completely different story because of this challenge.

I gripped the hilt of my saex tightly, tensing to draw it and let blood run along the water pattern in the steel.

“You’re a fool, Sevener.”

I originally chose to design Edward’s homeland after the Heptarchy, the time in Anglo-Saxon history when they had seven different kingdoms. After I switched it to plain English and called it the Seven Kingdoms, I was pleased to find the epithet “Sevener” come so easy to the tongue.

The rage that filled me blocked the words so that I barely heard the familiar voice. Rage at my lover, who had betrayed me. Rage at my friends, who had betrayed themselves. Rage at the emperor for corrupting them. And rage at myself, for—, well for reasons I could not fathom, but rage nonetheless.

The voice spoke again, “Edward?”

This time the voice penetrated enough that most of the rage slipped away, leaving pain in its place. Pain on my left where a blade had nicked my kidney but a few days ago. Pain in my shoulder when a different blade had slid past the bone and through the meat. Without magic, I would be dead, but magic could only do so much. I almost welcomed the pain, given my rage, but even then I knew how stupid it was. I slowly released the hilt and moved my good hand to rest on the parapet in front of me. Without my right arm twisted around my back, my left shoulder and side relaxed and much of the pain went away.

“You really are a fool, Edward.”

“I had to send her away. Gibroz will kill her if he can.” I looked over the wall above South Gate in Achrida. The wall’s crenellations hid the face that had been speaking to me. It mattered little, though, because I knew the sardonic smile that Hecatontarch Piriska Mrnjavcevic wore right then.

Gibroz, by the way, is one of the few names that I did not pull from a list of real names. It’s completely made up, though it is based on something in particular. One of my inside jokes, actually, that I will encourage my readers to figure out.

 “Not that, idiot. You explained all that last night while you cried into Ragnar’s rakija. No, I mean standing here right now.”

Rakija, like all of the food and drink in my novels, is real. As a foodie, one of the fun parts of writing is scouring through traditional dishes to add, for lack of a better word, flavor to my novels. I actually intend to put recipes for things like ajvar and zelniks on my wiki entry for those things one of these days.

Off in the distance, I could still see two tiny black shapes kicking up dust in the dry summer morning. Then they turned past a hill and I would never see my lover again. I had no need to watch the caravaners jockeying for position or listen to their vicious cursing at each other, so I straightened up. The wound on my side protested again. I desperately wanted to scratch it, but fortunately the sling holding my left arm prevented me from scratching it.

As I said, I think this scene is important for Edward. He has to physically watch Gabrijela leave. I may be wrong, but I also think it’s important for my readers to see her leave.

One of the reasons I think that’s true is that Gabrijela is not out of the overall story of Shijuren and the Empire of Makhaira. She’s too interesting of a character to simply let her go. What her adventures will be is yet to come, however.

“I guess…” I reached back again, this time just to caress the hilt of my saex. The one constant in my life. “I guess I just needed to be here.”

I’ve used “saex” a couple of times already in this snippet. This is a place where my editor and I disagreed. I came up with that particular spelling as a transliteration of the aesc vowel that is the proper vowel in the word. It’s how I spell every aesc when I don’t actually use the proper letter, the squished “ae” you might be familiar with. However, Kellie told me the proper spelling now is “seax.”

I liked my spelling better so I kept it, even if I’m wrong.

Gabrijela had seen me standing on the gate as she passed through, but she had done nothing. I would not have known what to say if she had. I had sent her away because I loved her, but I could never trust her again. Nor could I trust the Emperor that had ruined her life simply to serve his madness.

Now I saw the sardonic smile as Piri turned to me. “I didn’t say it was the wrong choice, only that you’re a fool.” She had earned that smile on dozens of battlefields and in years of training new warriors.

I nodded sadly. “I suppose.” I looked back over the wall. “I just didn’t know what else to do.”

Piri said nothing as she led me down from the battlement. My bencriht thegn, Maja Mrnjavcevic, waited for us, restless as always. She started to say something, but Piri quelled her with a sharp look and led us back up the Trade Road.

Maja is an interesting character to me. I really like her potential for growth and someday she might be an even bigger character in Shijuren than Edward, assuming I don’t kill her off. I don’t plan to, but I might change my mind. And accidents happen. I’ve already killed a character in I Am a Wondrous Thing that I didn’t mean or want to. However, circumstances dictated it.

I followed the hecatontarch in silent thought until she turned off from the road. Given that we had miles to walk before getting to the Square of Legends, I glanced at her.

“We should go visit my uncle now.”

My anger spiked again. “He can wait.”

“You know better. You have to see him, and it should be sooner rather than later.” She laughed. “Especially since you’re likely to just wallow in the Faerie all day, surlier than even Karah on a bad day.”

I just want to make it clear that Karah is *not* modeled on any server that I know. Certainly not the ones at Brewbaker’s that routinely take care of me even though I sit here for hours working whenever I can.

“She has good days?”

“Why don’t you ask her that.” Piri laughed again. “Let me get a beer and get comfortable first, I want to watch that discussion.”

The thought of antagonizing the perpetually grumpy Karah, daughter of Ragnar Longtongue and barmaid of his inn, broke the mood.

“You’re probably right. Vukasin is just the most powerful man in this province. Not near as dangerous as Karah’s wrath.” I smiled wryly. “After all that he has done for me, think he’d appreciate me calling him uncle too?”

She laughed. “Absolutely. He especially enjoys it when hare-brained foreigners take him for granted.”

Overall, I tried to make this opening portion contain a goodly amount of summing up from what happened in The Eyes of a Doll without being pure exposition, while also setting Edward up as somewhat adrift. Part of the challenge writing Edward is that, for my purposes, he needs to stay in Achrida so I can continue to write these novels, but all along I’ve been working to make him have a reason to stay.

In the most simplistic form, A Lake Most Deep trapped him in Achrida for a moment, The Eyes of a Doll cut off his original plans, leaving him adrift, and Where Now the Rider will give him an actual reason to stay.

The rest of Chapter 1, by the way, is the meeting with Vukasin and some hints of what’s to come in this story. I’ll leave that portion for later.

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.

 

Rob’s Update: Recovering

Week of 5 – 12 February

Greetings all

Sorry for not getting an update out last week. On the trip to Birka I came down with an awful cold, plus food poisoning on the drive back, and the overall trip was 4000 miles in 12 days so it was exhausting enough as it was.

I’m really glad I went on the trip, though sales at Birka were not enough to justify attending again. However, I had a good time and might consider it next year simply because I enjoyed the trip. The swing from ChattaCon to Maryland to Birka and back was a good one, though I need to contemplate taking longer than two days on the drive back, especially since the weather was generally pretty good on the drive and I can’t always expect that to be the case.

This past week I’ve spent mostly in Wichita with my mom helping out after dad’s passing. Because of her preparation, it’s been fairly easy, but it’s been nice to spend time with her.

Somewhere along the way though, my mind finally kicked back into gear and I know have the missing piece to make Where Now the Rider the way I want it. Now, I just have to find the time to finish it, which will be in the next few weeks I hope, but if not, probably April because I have most of March on the road. However, because of missing deadlines with my editor, I don’t have a good schedule right now because I’m not her only client and I have lost my spot for the moment. We’ll deal with it, though, and as soon as I get that to her, I’ll be continuing on with the sequel to I Am a Wondrous Thing.

Quote of the Week
What an ending to the Super Bowl. First overtime in Super Bowl history, biggest collapse in the playoffs ever, and a fifth ring for Brady. Hard to argue he’s the best of all time, though I might still make a case for a few others.

It’s hard to be a Falcons fan right now, because that was an awful loss that will never stop hurting. In the category of bad losses, the other end of the spectrum also involved a team from Atlanta, though in this case Georgia Tech won. In 1916 they played Cumberland College. Here’s a tough question. Which is worse? Losing like the Falcons did, or getting beat 222-0 (yes, 222-0) like Cumberland did.

My favorite quote from the game comes from the halftime speech of Georgia Tech coach John Heisman (yes, that Heisman). Just to note, the score at halftime was 126-0.

“You’re doing all right, team, we’re ahead. But you just can’t tell what those Cumberland players have up their sleeves. They may spring a surprise. Be alert, men! Hit ’em clean, but hit ’em hard!”

– John Heisman

Yeah, some surprise, they held Georgia Tech to only 96 points in the second half.

News and Works in Progress

  • Where Now the Rider

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Been a slow week, I’ll have more next week

Upcoming Events

  • 3-5 March: CoastCon, Biloxi, MS
  • 12-20 March: Gulf Wars, Lumberton, MS
  • 28-30 April: Planet Comicon, Kansas City, MO

Spotlight

One of the pleasures of Birka was sharing a table with Dexter Herron, another self-published author. I got his book Shard’s Thugs, which is epic fantasy from the perspective of goblins. I enjoyed it quite a bit. You can find his work here at: https://www.amazon.com/Dexter-C.-Herron/e/B00BRX1HP6/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1486681553&sr=8-1

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

Weekly Update Archive

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

Pennsic 2016 AAR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Pre-Madness Post

Midnight Madness at Pennsic is almost upon us.

I must be MAD! because I love these kinds of sales. It will be a night of constantly being on stage and talking to people. Tomorrow, I’ll be exhausted, but hopefully with fewer books and more money.

Pennsic so far has been extremely productive. It’s hard to judge sales compared to last year, because I did such a poor job of tracking sales. My processes are getting better every time I do a show. I haven’t sold what I did last year, but I seem to recall sales picking up the last 2 days. Which will start soon.

Mostly, I’m writing this post to talk about Where Now the Rider and A Lake Most Deep. I’ve made good progress on Where Now the Rider, especially since I’ve gotten past the hard initial steps of a book. I like where it’s going, though I need to add more action. Six chapters in and only one murder? What am I thinking?

As we’ve gotten busier and writing has become more challenging, I’ve switched to adding the wiki links to A Lake Most Deep. It’s now complete and the new electronic version is available.

If you have already purchased A Lake Most Deep and want to be able to go to the wiki entries while you are reading the books, you can get the new version downloaded to your Kindle by asking Amazon to send it to you.

To contact via phone:
http://www.amazon.com/clicktocall

To contact via chat:
http://www.amazon.com/clicktochat

Be warned, however, that if you have Amazon update to the latest copy, it will erase your bookmarks and notes. This, by the way, is why Amazon will not force feed the updated version.

Remember, the only change I made is in the electronic version of A Lake Most Deep. This change adds links to the wiki at www.robhowell.org/shijuren the first time a name or place or new word is mentioned. If you will never use the wiki, don’t worry about the update.

In the coming week, I’ll have finished adding these links to The Eyes of a Doll.

I’m adding these links because the response to the links in the electronic version of I Am a Wondrous Thing has been overwhelmingly positive. These links will be standard for all of my e-books in Shijuren.

With that, it’s time to prepare for MADNESS!!!

LibertyCon 2016 AAR

I’m sitting in Brewbaker’s, a bar near my house that has WiFi, Diet Dr. Pepper, comfy chairs, good food, and the patience to put with a writer occupying a table for hours on end. They are very good to me, especially Tanya, my beautiful blonde server in whose section I normally sit. Damn, it’s good to be home.

But while I’m happy to see my cat, sleep in my own bed, lounge in my comfy chair, and write in my home bar, I am already looking forward to LibertyCon XXX next year. It is absolutely true that LibertyCon is not a con, it’s a family reunion, .

The weekend did not start auspiciously, however. I got there early on Thursday, as I stayed in Across, GA at Sam Davis’s house and the Choo Choo said my room was ready. I got there to find that they had put me in Building 3, which was a bad thing because I had planned a room party and they all had to be in Building 1. The hotel was sold out, so the hotel could not do anything, and I thought I was going to be screwed. I was tired, frustrated, worried, and very grumpy.

I contacted Rich Groller, who arranged all the programming including the room parties, and he fixed the problem. He basically came up, handed me a towel, said, “Don’t panic,” and it was fixed. I got a great room for a room party, and for the long weekend. That moment of worry is by far the lowlight of the weekend, and because of the LibertyCon staff the lowlight was dealt with smoothly and easily.

The rest of Thursday involved a goodly amount of planning for the party, including walking around the hotel putting up signs. As a side note, the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel occupies a goodly amount of area. My fit app on my phone was very pleased with me this weekend, as I hit every goal every day. I also dropped by Robert Hoyt’s birthday party, Con Suite, and some other places to chat. Not a huge evening, but I didn’t want one because I knew Friday would be a long, hard day.

I started the day making a few more preparations for the party and getting my con badge. I also made arrangements to put my cart in the dealer’s room with Michael Hanson. Opening Ceremonies was at 5pm, and I had a spot on the Author’s Alley at 6pm, and pre-positioning my books was necessary to the logistics.

At 3pm was my only panel, and that was on writing swords and sorcery. I enjoyed the panel quite a bit. S. Andrew Swann did a good job of moderating, especially since he had not gotten the memo that he was the moderator. There were four others of us on the panel, and we all had a different take on fantasy. I think I contributed some, but thought I could have done better. However, I must have done at least moderately well, given that there were several people who saw me on the panel and then bought my books.

I wish I had been on more panels, however, that’s my fault for not getting in on programming early enough. Rich said I’m already on the list for next year, though.

I had an hour break in which I moved my books. Books are heavy. I have a cart, but it’s 100 plus yards from my room to the main con area. I made that trek pushing my cart 4 times, I think. Selling books is likely to make me stronger, at least.

Opening Ceremonies were fun for me. Gray Rinehart was the MC, which was a bit of a disappointment for me, though that’s no slight on Gray. Marc Gunn was the original scheduled MC, and he and I have chatted online some and I was hoping to meet him face to face. However, he had to cancel. Gray, though, did a great job, starting with a filk of David Bowie’s Major Tom, “Ground control to LibertyCon.” The highlight was the moment when he said he was a “monster” then pulled out the Monster Hunters International coin saying he was exempt. Brilliant.

For me, the key moment was being in the list with people like David Weber, Larry Correia, Sarah Hoyt, and all the other authors. Yes, I got to stand up and wave to the crowd. That was cool.

Then I set up for my first Author’s Alley hour. This is a really nice thing they offered us, a cheap table in the main walking area where we can sell books and interact with readers. While I struggled with the logistics, mostly because I did not think to ask Jonny Minion for help, and I did not sell a ton, I thought it went well. My three hours were not wasted.

After the Author’s Alley I hustled my books back to my room and made my final preparations for the party. One of the mistakes I made was not thinking to talk to other people about their release party plans. I should have joined forces. However, my party went very well. It’s like I’ve thrown parties and postrevels before, though I did forget bottled water. I did have cider, which turned out to be important, as I’ll mention later.

I credit Jonathan LaForce’s BBQ as a big reason for the party’s success. I gave him some money and said bring what you think is right. He brought a bunch of stuff. I’ve had a lot of brisket in my life. I’ve even made a few that were incredibly tasty. Jonathan’s might be the best I’ve ever had. If it isn’t, I can’t remember a better one. I hope to be able to do another release party next year, and if he can be there I’ll do it again. Plus, I’ll get myself a separate brisket just for me.

One other thing that is continuing to work well is my silly Wandering Signature Chart. I put it on the bottom of my party flyers and I had at least 5 people come in asking about it. Plus, a number of other authors are probably going to steal the idea. Not to mention the normal fun and whimsy it adds at dealer tables and other signing opportunities. One of the biggest highlights of the weekend was Steve Jackson reading it at the party.

The other person who helped was Jasmine DeGroot, who served as my bouncer. LibertyCon requires all room parties to be peanut free and have someone check IDs. Not surprisingly, no one under 21 tried to get booze, but Jasmine ensured I didn’t have to pay attention to that and could pay attention to the people that came to the party.

And man, did people come to the party. I had expected only about 10-15 all night, but I’m thinking over 50 cycled through. They overflowed out to the courtyard behind my room. I talked to a bunch of people, sold a few books, and I think we all had a great time. The last person left at 2:19am. I puttered around cleaning up and got to sleep at 3ish.

Fortunately, my first thing on Saturday started at 3pm. I was signing books in the Dealer’s Room. This ended up being essentially useless, because the Baen Roadshow was at the same time. Shockingly, I can’t compete with that… yet 🙂

Immediately after that was my reading. I had anticipated a 10 minute chunk, so when I found out I had 20-25 I was scrambling a bit. I combined the two chapters in I Am a Wondrous Thing where the husbands encourage Irina to step down and when the husbands all die to free her to live her life. It was a great choice in many ways, and had I really prepared for the crying that I would do as I was reading these parts, it would have been a fantastic reading. I care about my characters, and I cry when I kill them.

I had one more Author’s Alley hour for the day, starting at 8pm. Afterwards, I put my books away and socialized at the Con Suite where Mark Wandrey and Gail Z. Martin were having their book release parties. The best part of this was talking to a couple of people about some possible projects for the future.

Sunday started with the Koffeeklatsch, which was another opportunity for authors and readers to socialize. Another side note, LibertyCon really tries to create connections between authors and their readers. Last year I got the chance to chat with David Weber for a long time. This year was a number of other authors and readers. I did also initiate discussions on yet another project, something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time.

At 1pm I got my final Author’s Alley slot. A few more sales and more chatting. Then I got to put my books away. Books are heavy, did I mention that? I was glad to get those back into the car.

Closing Ceremonies, also called the Bitch at Brandy session, started at 3pm. One of the best things about LibertyCon is their willingness and desire to improve and tweak things. It was nice to hear that something like $8500 was raised for the con charity, which will sound larger when you realize that the con is capped at 750 attendees. Over $10 per person was donated to the charity. Not shabby. For me, I donated a set of my books to the charity auction. I wonder how much they went for.

The Dead Dog party started at 6pm. This turned out to be wonderful. Basically staff, the pros, and those who can stay for Sunday night all hang out. I actually got to game some, which I had not had a chance to do despite the fact that the gaming room was open 24/7. I played Splendor with Melissa Gay, the artist guest of honor, her husband, and some others.

I mentioned before that providing cider was important. It turned out that Steve Jackson pretty much only drinks Angry Orchard cider, and I happened to be the only one that provided it. That’s why I got the selfie of Steve and I at the Dead Dog gaming.

From a business perspective, LibertyCon was a success, though not directly. Overall on the trip, I sold enough books to pay for the gas and some of the food, but not the hotel and such. Nevertheless, the residual effect will be strong, I think. In part because it’s my 3rd year at LibertyCon and I’m no longer a new face. The connection with the fans there is awesome, and I’ve seen it from both sides of the fence now.

And then there’s the connections made with other authors. Chris Kennedy has been a big help to me, and he really works to make life easier for other indie authors. Follow him on Twitter for constant and consistent articles about the industry. We did not have much chance to chat, as we were always busy opposite each other. His release party was also on Friday night, and I regret the missed opportunity to have shared a release with him.

Mark Wandrey and I met at ChattaCon. We had another chance to hang out and chat. He’s having some great success right now with his new book A Time to Die, which is gratifying for two reasons. One, I’m glad he’s having success because he’s a friend. Two, his success gives me hope that I will eventually succeed if I continue to plug away.

Got a chance for some small conversations with some people I’ve met but don’t get to talk to often. Jason Cordova and I met 2 years ago, and he has been wonderfully patient answering my questions. Also he has good scotch. James Young lives in the KC area and I’m looking forward to getting to know him better. I’ve liked what I’ve read of his so far. Peter and Dorothy Grant are charming people. I got a few words in with Sarah Hoyt, which if you’ve ever seen her at a con you’ll understand how nice that is. She’s always so busy and so many people, including me, admire her. I had a great conversation with Jim Beall that will make the magic of Shijuren stronger. Geoffrey Mandragora and I got to chat a bit while sitting next to each other in Author’s Alley. Nan Monroe and I shared a fun reading session. She wants to do YA Fantasy right. I found out Beth Patterson is a Rush fan. Dave Schroeder and I got to actually chat, and now I know how to talk about his books while people are looking at them at Drix’s booth. I had a couple of nice, albeit short, conversations with Brad and Sue Sinor. Kal Spriggs was on my panel, and he’s a very sharp guy. I also had nice conversations with David Weber, Toni Weisskopf, Tom Trumpinski, and Rich Weyand.  I never actually got to run into Lou Antonelli, who was there but never where I was. Brad Cooksey has a podcast that I need to listen to and might get a chance to join someday.

I met a ton of other professionals. Jeremy Hicks, Chris Sommerkorn, S. Andrew Swann, Nick Braker, Brett Brooks, David Burkhead, David P. Coe / D.B. Jackson, Bobby Nash, Doug Dandridge, Michael H. Hanson, Thomas A. Mays, and Chuck Gannon. Between SCA 50 Year and quick moments at LibertyCon, I also got to know Mike Williamson.

Whew, what a list. And that’s just the professionals. There are a bunch of great fans at LibertyCon. I’m not going to list all that I talked to, but there were a bunch. Many thanks to all of them for coming and chatting.

However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how nice it was to see Paul Clithero and his wife, Sarah. I had seen his name on Facebook, and I knew that I knew him, but it’s been so long that I’d forgotten so much. We worked at Jimmie’s Diner and drank at the same watering holes around 1990. Sarah is extremely nice and I look forward to getting to know them. They also did their share to support indie authors, buying dozens of books. Many thanks to them.

Of course, none of this is possible without the LibertyCon team. Brandy Spraker, Derek Spraker, Uncle Timmy, Matthew Fanny, Rich Groller, Vonn Gants, and all the rest do a fantastic job. I know these sort of accolades get bandied about at the end of an event, but I’ve seen the sausage made at a lot of events, both SCA and SF/F, and that is probably the most efficient team I’ve ever seen.

I know I’m forgetting stuff, and people, and talking about stuff with those people. But this will do for now.

I am pre-registered for LibertyCon XXX and I have a room reservation. The con will sell out for the 3rd year in a row, and the hotel has *already* sold out. It really is an impressive con.

 

 

More Catching Up

I was going to post a bunch of stuff about SCA 50 Year, and I realized I myself wanted to find a TL:DR version, so clearly it wasn’t worth a whole blog post. Here it is:

I got the book done. I sold some. Met some new people. As land agent, everyone had a spot. We did have a few noise complaints. We warned them. Quite a bit of cool stuff, but there could have been more. Equestrians were definitely the star of the show.

Ok, enough of 50 Year, on to Trillium War. I’m looking forward to a bit of a break, as I probably won’t have a chance to write and won’t have much opportunity to sell, but I need a little down time because next week is very exciting for me.

I’ll be at LibertyCon with a book release party of I Am a Wondrous Thing. I’ll also be on a panel, a reading, and several shots at Author’s Alley. A big weekend for me.

As I say, I’m really excited. This is my third LibertyCon, along with a ChattaCon, and I’m starting to know and be known. Now I go there with 3 books instead of 1, and next year intend to have 5. Making progress.

I hope to maybe have some opportunities to take some of the small stories in my head and find some anthologies that match, and there’s one person in particular I want to chat with. I’ll be stalking him.

This has already been a long, tiring trip, but I have a week of friends and smiling and singing.

In terms of what’s next for me as a writer after LibertyCon. I will spend much of the time between then and Pennsic planning my fall and spring. I will also be doing Pennsic prep, of course. I will throw a few words at Where Now the Rider, and I plan on writing a lot of that at Pennsic. I’ll be sitting in Drix’s booth, writing, waiting for people to come by. By the end of Pennsic, I suspect I’ll be in the 30k range, with a goal to complete a draft by the end of September.

After Pennsic comes WorldCon. I’ll talk about that more later. For now, it’s time to order some bookmarks.