Tag Archives: Shijuren

ConFluence AAR

Greetings all

This weekend I left Pennsic and went about 45 minutes south to ConFluence. It was a very busy weekend for me.

It started with panel about genre blending. Obviously, this provided me an opportunity to talk about the fun of adding mystery to swords and sorcery, as I do in the Edward series.

Following that was a reading. Again, I did the portion from I Am a Wondrous Thing. It went well, better than the last time I did it. I know I got some sales from it.

Friday evening was generally laid back. Much of my time was spent in the TV Gods: Summer Programming release party chatting with Lee Hillman, an editor of the TV Gods series and a friend of mine. It was a very enjoyable time, especially since they got a pack of various IPAs to share.

Saturday morning started with my signing session at 10am. At that hour, I didn’t expect much, but this was the most successful signing session I’ve ever had.

After that, I had a bit of a break until my next session. I spend much of that time trying to write. Not my best writing session, mostly because my mind kept wandering, but it wasn’t completely unproductive.

Starting at 2pm, I had three sessions in four hours. The first was perhaps the most intimidating for me, a discussion of exoplanets and how we can use them in our fiction. It was intimidating because everyone else on the panel were astrophysicists or geologists, except for the guy who was both a scientist and an artist. Then there’s me. Still, I held my own, because to a certain extent, the philosophy of things is always relevant, and I am a philosopher.

One fascinating thing came out of the discussion that I must mention. I do not generally like elves and dwarves and such in my worlds. For someone who writes fantasy, I don’t like magic to be, well, magical. I want everything grounded in a scientific basis. This, by the way, is why I was chosen for the panel in the first place.

However, one person at the end, and I’m sorry I didn’t get her name, pointed out that throughout the panel we’d been focused on the macro side of things, not the micro end. As often happens for me, the right thing said at the right time helps my mind make a jump and I finally have a justification for elves.

What if elves are the result of a micro-organism that causes a mutation? That makes sense to me, and maybe I’ll add them to Shijuren after all. I’ve already got some plans from interesting mutations that already exist in the human genome, but it’s nice to have more options.

I moderated my next panel. This one discussed writing in someone else’s sandbox. Since I’d like to turn Shijuren into a sandbox, I wanted very much to participate in this so I was happy to moderate the panel. I think the most important thing we decided was that all participants need to respect the sandbox and its contributors. People who just jump in without that interest and respect show up all too obviously.

At 5pm I participated in a whimsical panel where we created Vogon poetry. This year’s theme was the limerick, so we created a number of those. Yes, we had one that started, “There once was a Vogon from Nantucket.”

The one limerick I can remember off the top of my head went:

There was a Vogon named orange
Who gurgled one morning in purple
He heard a mime rail
About the slime trail
Amidst callipygian silver

I will say, it didn’t make my intestine want to strangle me, so I think we’ll need to do better.

Saturday evening I watched Consortium of Genius’s show. They were a lot of fun and surprisingly metal. Most bands at SF/F cons are acoustic in nature, but these guys played their music loud and hard. I had a blast, though I think some of the other people were a bit bemused. I especially enjoyed Think Tank and Middle-earth Needs Me.

I had met the lead singer and the bassist earlier in the day because we are all Rush fans. In the category of small worlds, I found out they are friends with Beth Waggoner Patterson, who I’ve met at other cons who is also a Rush fan. Had I not known ahead of time that the bassist was a Rush fan, I would have guessed after hearing his complex bass lines. Good stuff.

Sunday morning involved two sessions. The first at 10am discussed the Ten-Volume Trilogy. We all shared our own experiences with our worlds taking a life of their own. Yeah, that means lot of stuff to come in Shijuren.

The last thing I did at the con was a Kaffeeklatsch where I discussed the Martin Koszta Affair again and how I can use it to inspire fiction. I was shocked to have so many attendees, actually, as the way they set these up they were designed to be intimate discussions involving less than ten people. I believe I got a full dozen, who seemed to really enjoy what I did. I’ll keep doing this panel as long as people keep enjoying it.

After that I got back on the road to return to Pennsic as quickly as I could. I enjoyed ConFluence quite a bit, but I was ready to get back to the Middle Ages.

Thoughts on Language

I’m building the appendices today for Where Now the Rider and I thought I’d post my philosophies about language in a fantasy world.

I’ve given more philosophical thought to this sort of thing than I probably should. In fact, I have struggled in the past to write science fiction or fantasy because they would have a completely different language. English in 100 years won’t be the same, and in 2-300 years may be almost incomprehensible. Languages are like that.

Therefore I should, like Tolkien, create a series of languages. Of course, how do I find an audience when I’m expecting them to learn a series of languages. A tree, for example, wouldn’t be “tree” in another language. Not to mention a pine tree. And a Scotch pine, of course, can’t exist unless there’s a Scotland to refer to. How can anyone even write a fantasy world when all of this needs to be changed?

Of course, we all accept the fiction that people in that world know English. That they have essentially the same language. And, for that matter, that they’re human in the first place.

Still, I think it’s important for a fantasy world to use a some strange words. It is a fantasy world after all, and the language has to match. In my case, since I’m writing medieval fantasy, I’m also bound to using words that fit into the milieu and aren’t too modern.

Once I accept the obvious, there’s a corollary that becomes useful. If I have to accept English as the language for my audience, and I do, and if I have to accept that humans are the best base of a fantasy world, and I do, then I can also accept the use of real-world cultures and languages that aren’t English.

No, I’m not wayyyyy too philosophical, why do you ask?

The answer, by the way, is that if I don’t believe in Shijuren, then how can I ask readers to believe. If I can come up with a philosophical justification for the shortcuts I’ve taken, then it works for me. Which I have and it does.

Anyway….

All of what I just said is important because it shapes how I use language in Shijuren. I look to other languages and adapt words and phrases to suit what I need. For example, majea is pretty clearly a cognate of magic, and I derive it from Ancient Greek. It is handy because when I use it to refer to magic I’m not asking for the reader to stretch to much.

In the same way, when I built the prefixes that apply to majea, I used things that can make sense for those who think about it. Love magic uses “er” as the prefix, from Eros. Land magic, “ge,” as in geology. Yes, I know “geo” is the proper prefix, but that extra syllable doesn’t sound as good. Life magic, “zo,” as in zoology, again cutting a syllable. Line magic, “sym,” as in symbols. And Lore magic uses “cli,” which derives from Clio, the muse of history.

I doubt many readers have caught on to this particular trick, but let me tell you it helps me a ton when my brain is fuzzy and I’m trying to remember just the word to use.

Kurios, by the way, and kurioi, is also Greek-derived, basically for people who are curious. Hence, magicians. Hence erkurios and so on.

For me, just creating these names has also helped lock these different magics in my head. I know what I’m trying to do with them, both what they can allow and what they can’t allow. The limitations to magic, of course, being very important to me.

Anyway, back to language. I use a large number of foreign-derived words. I also use a large number of simple foreign words. For example, “krieger” is German for “warrior.” What better way to say, in one world, “a warrior from the Kreisens?”

Using traditional names of dishes for food is especially important to me. As some have said to me, it’s nice that they’re not always eating a stew. Shchi, cevapi in somun, or shopska is far more interesting to me. Goulash might be easier, but gulyas (the traditional name) is much more fun to me.

Again, I don’t expect or require every reader to examine the hidden depths in the words. Just like in Middlearth, I didn’t have to know Quenya or Sindarin to grasp the bulk of what a word in either language meant, but I guarantee that Tolkien hid etymology that helped him into each word.

This is also true for names and places. In some cases, I’ve used actual names, like Biljana’s Springs (http://wikimapia.org/20513379/Biljana-s-Springs). Achrida is, of course, the ancient name of Ohrid, the city in Macedonia. If you look at pictures of it, you’ll have a better idea of what Achrida looks like, by the way. Also, the Mrnjavcevic and Gropa families existed in the Balkans. They’ve provided all sorts of inspiration for me.

Most of the names, though, I pick from the list at Behind the Names, a fantastic website. Naming patterns vary from culture to culture of course, and this site helps me remain consistent within the various cultures. It also allows me to break the pattern when I wish. For example, Croatian and Bosnian form the bulk of the names in Achrida. Lezh is Albanian, which makes sense if you know that Ohrid is across the lake from Albania. For people from Basilopolis I’ve chosen to go with Greek and Byzantine names.  Since I’m lifting the history of Rome and Constantinople, it’ll come as no surprise that Roman naming conventions predominate in Sabinian Province, the base of the Old Empire from which the Empire of Makhaira is born. However, given that I’ve made Achrida a major trading city, I’ve also tossed in a variety of other names. Turkish, for example. Sub-Saharan Africa contributes Mataran names, which we see periodically in Achrida, as in the case of Chinwe, one of the victims in Where Now the Rider.

There are a few exceptions, and those are names I made up because of some particular reason or reference that makes me smile or those that Adam Hale made up while making the map.

And this is all to the good. Language should be a messy thing. Names should have a variety of things. Even when I’ve chosen to simply a language thing, like names of magic and the calendar, I’ve added a layer, like using Old English to make the calendar.

It’s a balance, and I’ll admit I possibly go too far, but I’m trying to create a world that is deep and rich, a sandbox to let me write a number of different stories. I don’t know how I can do that without playing with language.

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.

Strategy

I’m sitting in an Applebee’s* in Kennesaw, GA right now ready to go to LibertyCon. I almost wish I’d paid for my room for tonight, instead of starting tomorrow as I’m very much looking forward to it. I don’t need a room, Sam Davis has graciously let me crash at his house, but man I’m ready to go.

I’ll do a pre-LibertyCon post tomorrow, but I wanted to finally write about my strategy and goal of Shijuren. I’ve said for while I want to build a world, not simply write a few novels. This, then, is how I aim to do that.

First, I’ll be writing no less than two novels a year in Shijuren as long as I can afford it. One will be an Edward book set in Achrida that I will aim to finish over Thanksgiving each year. I will also write sequels to I Am a Wondrous Thing until I finish the series. Then I’ll write some different series. I might also write an online serial, based on different characters with different stories.

All of these threads will be essentially separate. There will some commonalities, of course, like the magic and occasional crossover characters, but there will be no need to read all of the threads to enjoy any one of them. You’ll get some benefit to reading them all, for if you learn the system of magic in one, you’ll understand it in all. Plus all of the other benefits of reading in the same world.

However, if you prefer the mystery style of the Edward novels over the fantasy style of the Kreisens series, then you can just read those without having any concern that you’re missing crucial aspects of the story by skipping the parts that are not as appealing to you. My ultimate goal is to tie all of the characters together in a later series, but I will endeavor to do so without requiring that you have to read the earlier novels to understand the final series.

When I described this at Planet Comicon, one of the people I talked to said it was something like the Marvel universe. That you could enjoy the Avengers without necessarily having read all the Ironman series, or the Captain America series, or whatever. I like that analogy. I’ve also heard that Robin Hobb has done something like that, but I’ve not read her books… yet. My original thought was to invert the Dragonlance series, which started with a party of D&D characters that as they got higher in level branched out to have separate stories.

The question remains whether I can execute my strategy to the level that these previous examples have done. I quite like what I’ve done so far in the Kreisens series, with Edward having a small role and with the geopolitics brushing along with both.

Now, it’s entirely possible that I won’t do this well, or even if I do, that the stories get so enmeshed that readers will want some information from the books. That’s where the wiki will come into play. One person’s spoiler might be another person’s TL:DR, allowing them to have the information without necessarily reading the books.

You might wonder why I’m structuring this so that people can avoid buying some of my books. I do so for a variety of reasons. One, I’m writing in multiple genres. My mother, for example, likes mysteries, but does not like epic fantasies. I have a number of friends who prefer the other way around. I want to write big scope stories eventually, without alienating people who prefer the different styles.

Two, I believe, as an entertainer it is my job to make you want to read my books. If I write good books and good stories, thereby making you want to read my books, then you’ll buy them and read them. If I don’t, or if I write some in a genre you don’t like, then that’s my fault, not yours, and I shouldn’t expect you to buy them.

Again, I can’t promise I’ll execute this vision well. I can promise I will do my best to write good stories and tie them together. I can also promise that I won’t stop writing in this world. Life might prevent me from writing in this world, but I won’t stop by choice.

I have a lot of stories to tell in Shijuren. I hope you join me as I find out what they all are.

* As a side note, I’ve grown to love Applebee’s. The food’s not great, but it’s not wretched. However, they all have internet and most have outlets available at some tables. And they’re everywhere, meaning I can always find an office to work in.

The Wiki

Greetings all

Last Friday I sent off the manuscript to Kellie for her last round of editing. Still on track to have I Am a Wondrous Thing published in June.

On Friday, I was talking to Cedar Sanderson about the manuscript and the wiki I’m building in Shijuren (www.robhowell.org/shijuren), and she asked for me to guest post about doing a wiki on the blog she shares with a number of great writers, the Mad Genius Club (They’re not mad, but they are a little miffed). I was immensely pleased and honored by the opportunity, and immediately wrote it.

I’ll wait here for my mother, my ex-wives, and all of my teachers to pick their jaws off the floor at the idea of me doing something immediately.

In any case, you can see the post here: https://madgeniusclub.com/2016/06/04/guest-post-creating-a-wiki/

After finishing that, I have turned myself to the task of finishing the appendices for IAAWT and updating the wiki to fully reflect all of the new stuff I’ve created. I’m pleased to say that I’m done with all of the people, which is the largest category I need to update.

As of now, the wiki is up to over 300 pages. That’s not just the characters in IAAWT, of course, that includes all the other things I’ve done, some of which have not really ever been used except as background for me.

However, one thing that number also reflects is a new way of organizing the wiki. One of the concerns that was brought up to me by two people in two different places was how I was going to handle spoilers. Obviously, I want to update entries based upon what happens in the books, but I don’t want to ruin any of the books for new readers.

My solution is to create a separate page for each entry to reflect changes after each book. For example, there is a page for Edward Aethelredson. On that page is a link for Edward after I Am a Wondrous Thing (he’s a minor character). There’s also a link for Edward after A Lake Most Deep and another for him after The Eyes of a Doll. The wiki process actually makes creating these easy and quick, so the process has been smooth.

Now people visiting the site have the option of clicking on a spoiler or not. Some people love spoilers. Some people don’t. You might ask if this means people don’t have to read the books, but I have written as sparse and bare-bones explanation of what happens that while the ending might be obvious, the story isn’t.

I like it.

As I’m writing Where Now the Rider this summer and in the fall, I’ll be backfilling all the stuff from ALMD and TEOAD.

One of the things I’m going to try with IAAWT is that each of the people, places, and words in the book are linked to the wiki, both from the entry in the appendices and the first time the word is used in the text. Most e-readers are connected to the internet, and it’s easy to add the hyperlinks. This means a reader can click on a link, look up a thing, and return to their reading app without losing their place.

If I get good response from that, I’ll update ALMD and TEOAD to include those links for the e-books, and add it to Where Now the Rider. We’ll see.

If it doesn’t work, two keystrokes removes all the hyperlinks from the document. One thing about self-publishing, I can be very responsive to the feedback of my customers. I tried linking to appendix entries in A Lake Most Deep, but people did not like the way that worked. We’ll try this. Then we’ll see.

I think that’s it for now. Have a great day.

Planet Comicon AAR

What an exhausting weekend. Many thanks to Bill Wilks for serving as the muscle, my sweetie Nik Deplazes for assisting, and Rachel Ost for serving as the Byzantine on the bench. Without their help, I’d have never made it.

Was it worth the money to do? Obviously that has to be the first question and the answer is yes, even though I did not quite break even in sales of paperbacks compared to all of my expenses. While I would have loved to have sold more copies, I still gained quite a bit of exposure and I won’t know for at least a couple of weeks what the impact to online sales will be.

I spent today editing a large chunk of I Am a Wondrous Thing and I am starting to get the same feeling I got when I turned the corner on A Lake Most Deep and The Eyes of a Doll. The corner where I think I’ve got a good story. If I’m as correct with IAAWT as I was with the first two, given the response I’ve gotten, then it will be a good story. That means that what I need is exposure, and there’s no doubt Planet Comicon gave me quite a bit.

I was pleased to see most of my plans worked pretty well. My experience at National Computer and Atronex watching Dave Williamson two decades ago definitely helped.

I really like the banner my friend Timothy Jones printed out for me. You probably saw it in the pictures on Facebook. I liked it so much I think I’ll have another banner, this one based on the TEOAD cover, because I noticed people’s eyes looked both above the table and at the base where I had the banner. I think it will be good to have both places covered whenever possible.

One unqualified success was my “Wandering Signature Chart.” I don’t like just signing my name to books. I want to write something else, something fun. For people I know, I can write something personal directed at them, but I knew that most of my signatures would be to people I had never met before.

At Pennsic, I whimsically signed a book to a friend of a friend who I knew was a gamer with, “Congratulations, you’ve rolled a 17 on the Wandering Signature Chart.” We all laughed and I forgot about it until two weeks ago, when I thought that might be a fun thing, so I made the chart.

It includes things like the above saying, plus a bunch of book and movie references like “I love the smell of paragraphs in the morning” and “I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing printer ink.” Some people chose one, and “By my pretty, floral bonnet, I will sign this for you” was a definite favorite, but many enjoyed the whimsy of rolling a d20 for the result.

Either way, it was another way to engage the passers-by and have fun with my new readers. I had one sale solely because he wanted one of the signatures. I’ll definitely take it. The chart, and a d20, has been added to my basic display unit.

I also learned a number of things during the weekend. I’ve streamlined my accounting, and now have a good process for that. I figured out a pretty good arrangement on the table, and planned for an arrangement that will adjust to at least six different books. When I get more than six things might get crowded, but I’ll take that problem. I need to improve my signage a bit, but that’s tweaking. My signs were clear and readable.

As a side note, I want to mention Patrick McEvoy of www.megaflowgraphics.com again. He did a fantastic job on my covers, and they drew in a bunch of people, The Eyes of a Doll cover especially.

Speaking of noticing things, one of the best parts of Planet Comicon for me was people-watching. Usually , at such cons, I notice some things, but I’m too busy walking or looking at the next thing in the program or some such to catch a lot of little details in the cosplay. At a booth, I’m watching people to see if they might have any interest in my books, so I’m paying attention to stuff. Saw lots of cool, little touches.

I also saw some wonderful t-shirts and paying attention to them got me a number of opportunities to talk to people I would not have had otherwise. I got at least two sales simply because I engaged people with a reference many others might not have gotten.

I had a great time meeting people, of course. It was good to see a number of people like Doug Kempton, Jenna Tomlin, and Beth Moscato, who I don’t talk to enough. The highlight of this was meeting Samanta and Kyrstin Zuo Cai who I had met years ago. They’re the daughters of an old friend of mine, John Cook, who passed away four years ago. We had many a battle in our fantasy sports leagues. He should still be around so I can still kick his butt.

Anyway, I made some contacts that might prove fruitful. A couple of podcasts approached me about appearing on their shows, and I’m hoping that in the fall I can set that up, especially as Where Now the Rider is getting close to being done.

In general, lots of exciting stuff. I met a lot of cool people and learned a ton. Assuming they keep the price reasonable, I’ll go back to Planet Comicon every year. As I get a bigger name, I suspect I’ll do better each time. Honestly, if all I do is break even in the future it will be worth it. I’m sure I did get some new longtime customers. Plus, though exhausting, it was simply fun.

 

 

 

 

Catching Up

Today was a day for cleaning out my email, working on promotional stuff like my website, and planning on new conventions. Let’s see if I can remember everything I did:

  • Registered for World Fantasy Con in October.
  • Registered for WorldCon in August.
  • Registered on Goodreads as an author.
  • Updated my Amazon authors page.
  • Updated my website. More images and general coolness.
  • Made a new banner for the website.
  • Put a bunch of links to my wiki for the World of Shijuren.
  • Sent information to LibertyCon for two of my Authors Alley books.
  • Updated my WordPress blog site with some new images.
  • And, oh yeah, actually did a blog post.

Not a bad day’s work. Lots of important things taken care of.

My favorite, as you will find out, is the Shijuren wiki at http://www.robhowell.org/shijuren. Basically, this will ultimately be the entire repository of all my Shijuren world-building. There are only 170 or so entries right now, but I’m adding them consistently. There are also snippets of the novels you can find by searching “From the Books,” including snippets of I Am a Wondrous Thing, which will be released in June. So if you want to find sneak peaks, you can search for “IAAWT” for the pieces I’ve put up already. More is coming.

I keep learning things. Like I didn’t realize Goodreads was attached to Amazon, so I never made an author’s page there. I’m fixing that. I also learned that Amazon doesn’t necessarily link new works to an author’s page. Fixed that too.

I also added a few more images to my Amazon page and my official website. If you watch my Facebook page, you might very well have seen them already, but they’re some of my favorites of me. I also made a new banner image for the website and this blog, including one of the images I added. I think it’s pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself.

I should take this time to thank Patrick McEvoy. I keep finding new ways to use the cover art he did for A Lake Most Deep. He did a fantastic job, and I’m really liking what’s coming from it. I’ll be unveiling a new actual banner this weekend at Kansas City’s ComicCon that is also based on that artwork and I think it will look fantastic.

I’m clearing the decks because Kellie has given me the next edits of I Am a Wondrous Thing. I’ll be pounding away at getting that ready for publishing as soon as possible. I have to say, I really enjoy working with Kellie. She’s not only great at catching mistakes, but also places where I’ve not necessarily made a mistake, but could use strengthening. I can’t recommend her enough.

I’m also really excited about ComicCon this weekend, but I’ll talk about my excitement on a post later this week.

Now, I think it’s time for some lounging and thinking about how to execute all the directives Kellie gave me.

Cheers all

 

Excited

Map Achrida

I’m so excited to announce that Adam Hale has drawn us all a map of Achrida.

This is just one of the changes that have kept me so busy that I haven’t had a chance to blog.

The map is merely one of the updates to a forthcoming First Anniversary, Second Edition of A Lake Most Deep. These have been submitted to Amazon in both ebook and paperback format, and are in the process of getting reviewed. Hopefully both will be active in the next day or so.

The changes to the second edition are mostly minor. The map is a big change, of course, but mostly it’s cleaning of some mistakes I made publishing my first book and editing to fix some typos and grammatical errors I found. Also, to make it more consistent with The Eyes of a Doll, I had Kellie edit A Lake Most Deep.

Also, I had Patrick change the cover to make it match the much better setup on my second book. This is more obvious with the print version, but people such as Cedar Sanderson who pointed out that my name needs to be in big, bright letters can now simply laugh at my inability to self-promote instead of laughing and asking when I’m going to fix that.

As a side note, I want to thank all of those who took the time to tell me that one thing. I’m getting better, but I’ve never been good at putting myself forward.

In any case, the one substantial change is an addition requested by Romaine Spence. He pointed out that I never answered what happened to the Notes of Naum. In response, I added a few paragraphs. He’ll also get an autographed copy of the new edition for his help.

What will this mean to those who bought the first edition? Well, a total of 125 of the first edition were printed. When I become the biggest fantasy author on the planet, these will be worth something. So tell your friends about me, and consider it an investment in your future.

For ebooks, I had hoped that Amazon would allow people to download the new edition for free. Unfortunately, they will not. I suppose I understand that, from the perspective of things that routinely get new versions, but that doesn’t help us.

What I will say is that if you bought the 1st edition of either version of the book, I will send you an email with the map and the extra paragraphs. It’s not ideal, but I’m afraid that’s what it is.

But wait, there’s more!

Not about A Lake Most Deep, but about the next book. I’m getting very close to sending the first book in an epic fantasy set in Shijuren sent to Kellie. Edward is a minor character in this one, and it talks about some of his experiences in Ivan Yevgenich’s izba.

More to come about that project soon.

I want to thank all of you who bought the first edition. I feel bad that, in a sense, I am not being fair to the ones who were there for me at the beginning. I can only say that I’m learning, trying to get better, and I want to continue putting quality product out there.  And that I thank you for your patience and forbearance.

Enough for now, I have to go save Valentin, one of the characters in the next book.

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