Tag Archives: Terry Maggert

Rob’s Ramblings: ChattaCon AAR

ChattaCon has come and gone for 2020. It was, as usual, a great time. I really enjoy the Chattanooga fan scene. It’s a bunch of smart, fun people and I’m glad I get to go there twice a year.

As usual, Lani gave me a nice busy schedule. Actually, it was brilliant this year because it was front-loaded, which I appreciate.

I’ll get to that in a moment, but one of the most important parts of cons these days is the Thursday before con networking. This time, I had a chance to sit down with Brian Cooksey and lay out some plans for getting the Shijuren RPG off the ground.

Side note: Brian will be a Special Guest next year at ChattaCon because of his game design skills. I’m honored he’s helping me out.

We spent a couple of hours agreeing upon overall goals, a general breakdown of responsibilities, and that sort of thing. I had given him some ideas I wanted to try and he gave me his opinion on them.

One thing I think is good about our partnership is that we have different perspectives. While I have a lot of gaming experience, it’s mostly in one tree, D&D/Pathfinder. Brian, on the other hand, knows a ton of game systems and he has a lot of different things to bring into the conversation.

Our basic philosophy is this: We want a game system that allows for a ton of flexibility and options in character design. I want players to play the character they want. At the same time, we want a game system that streamlines the process to minimize checking rules during the game because all the information a player needs is on his character sheet already.

I’ll expand on the game system plans as they get going. I’ll be posting process updates consistently both here and on the wiki when I get it updated.

Suffice to say I’m really excited as it starts to get off the ground. I’ve always wanted to be a part of an RPG and I think we can do some cool stuff here.

The actual convention started at 5pm on Friday with my Martin Koszta panel. As usual, people enjoyed it but I am more convinced now that I need to retire it for a few years. I’ll actually come back to it at some point, I’m sure, but I’ve presented it too much. What I really need to do is pick a new historical event, maybe run through bits and pieces of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle or go through Old English poetry.

That was at 5 on Friday. Immediately after was a world-building on the fly panel by Brian Cooksey that was a lot of fun. He structured it with 4-5 things that had to be in it and 4-5 things that had to *not* be in it, then let us riff off the combinations. That’s a process I might just try for the next Shijuren series as I come up with different characters and storylines.

At 8pm was a similar panel, and had I been thinking, I would have pulled from Brian’s.

Of course, had I been thinking, I would have noticed I was the listed moderator and been prepared to direct things. We muddled out some things, but it needed more direction and audience involvement. It could have been great, but I didn’t come prepared. Next time, I’ll fix that.

And yes, I had a 9pm Friday panel discussing how much violence and sex should we include in fantasy and SF. My answer is it depends on the story I’m trying to write. I tend to action/adventure stuff, so there’s lots of violence. I can change how graphic that is up and down the dial, but it tends toward violent.

On the other hand, I’ve been incorporating more romantic and sexual themes in my stuff. The Chaos of Well-Seeming Forms is a riff off Romeo and Juliet (actually the Finnsburh stuff, but same thing). As for how graphic my sexual content will be, it will depend on if it pushes the story. I don’t like either violence or sex that’s just put in just to have it.

Then was the LibertyCon party, and I hung out there until it closed. I bounced around for a bit, but I was tired and went to bed. A good day, all around, though really, really busy.

That business on Friday meant, however, that Saturday was fairly light. I had a panel at 1pm on weaving historical events and real things in speculative fiction.

I actually checked to see if I was the moderator and did a much better job at coming up with questions. I thought it went really well, though I will say having Terry Maggert as a panelist is fantastic. All you need to do is stick a quarter in him and he’ll create a ton of things to talk about.

I had my author signing/sales session from 4-5pm. It went really well, highlighted by a couple of regular readers showing up right away. They’re a joy to have as fans, smart, nice, and pleasant.

Then I spent much of the evening talking with Terry Maggert and Mel Todd about writing and processes. I learned a ton. Terry’s done well from writing and he’s definitely someone to pay attention to. Mel has studied things from a different tack, and she’s got quite a bit to teach me on the business side especially. It’s nice to have smart friends.

Then I went and hung out at parties and such-like things. One con regular hosts her own party, and I spent a goodly amount of time there. Then I went and watched the burlesque for a bit. Then I joined in on Kat’s birthday party.

I went to bed late, but it was worth it.

I was moving slowly on Sunday morning (shocking, I know), but I really enjoyed the panel on using Culture, Mythology, and Spirituality to fill out speculative fiction moderated by Amanda Makepeace.

Side note: Amanda is an amazing artist and will be Artist Guest of Honor at MidSouthCon opposite FantaSci and then ChattaCon 2021.

Anyway, I wondered where this panel might go, because it’s such a broad topic. In the end, what I think I got was a codification of something I already knew I did, but had never said aloud. I chose to use real world religions in Shijuren because I wanted to get the immediate evocative response from a Zeus or a Woden instead of a made-up deity who was some analogue. I use gods and goddesses from a bunch of cultures because I find them all fun and interesting.

Researching other cultures is one of the best parts of writing in Shijuren.

At that point, my responsibilities were done. I emptied my room, made my goodbyes, and was on the road by 11:30.

I thought about staying for some of the closing stuff, but after staying up late on Saturday and with the way the weather has been around KC of late, I decided I wanted to get on the road as quickly as I could.

At LibertyCon, I’ll be staying for the Dead Dog Party, and maybe even for a couple of days after. However, on this trip, it was time to be home. The trip went well, I didn’t even need a nap, and I made it home at 9ish.

As usual, today is sort of slow day, and I’m not doing much other than writing my AAR and puttering around on some detail work here and there. Nothing huge or stressful, nor anything I’ll beat myself up for not doing except the AAR, which really is best done today anyway when I’m still basking in a great weekend. All part of learning how to manage myself better.

Anyway, the short version. The trip went well. I achieved the goals I had in mind. I had fun.

I’ll be there in 2021.

Rob’s Update: One Little Victory

Week 25 of 2019

Greetings all

Well, so it’s been more like the monthly update recently. I apologize, there’s just been so much going on.

The biggest news is The Feeding of Sorrows, my first full length novel in the Four Horsemen Universe, came out last Friday. It got up to number 3 in new releases in Action and Adventure and it’s still at number 4. To say I’m pleased is a huge understatement. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07T3B8BGB/.

To Slip the Surly Bonds Cover
To Slip the Surly Bonds Cover

Also released since my last update (sheesh, I’m so easily distracted), is We Dare, a collection stories of augmented humanity. My story in there is called “The Chaos of Well-Seeming Forms.” If you get the reference, you’ll have some clue how it goes down, but more than anything I was influenced by the Finnsburh Fragment and Episode, two bits of Old English poetry. Also, I had a chance to pay an homage to Dick Francis, and I took it. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07SK6WKM1/.

I’m currently working on “In Darkening Storms,” the follow up to “Far Better to Dare” from Those in Peril. The new anthology will be called To Slip the Surly Bonds. For those of you reading this message, if you go to my blog, you can see the cover art there.

If you’re wondering about None Call Me Mother, I was just too ambitious. The new date to get it to the editor is the end of July with the hope to have it published in September. Thank you for your patience.

I was at Lilies War last week. I had a great time, did way too much, sold some stuff, and came home with a number of projects for Pennsic. The good news is right now I’m looking as ready for Pennsic as I have ever been and I don’t leave for five weeks.

Next week I head to LibertyCon. This year my mom gets to join me. I will, of course, be very busy there, thanks to the hard work of Rich Groller. You can find my schedule here: http://www.libertycon.org/programming/pros3.php?pid=326.

After LibertyCon, I’ll be at Hypericon in Nashville. This will be my first time there, but I’m looking forward to it. After all, if Terry Maggert is the Guest of Honor, things have to be whimsical.

While I have more to chat about, that’s probably enough. That’s what I get for not sending out a weekly message. Next message will come from the Marriott in Chattanooga.

See you all out and about.

Current Playlist Song

Rush’s One Little Victory. This always reminds me of the final show of the Vapor Trails tour. They played this song to open the second set, and it was a reminder of all the challenges Rush had gone through the previous five years, especially Neil.

At one point, simply picking up drumsticks was a little victory for him, and yet at that moment he had managed to not only record a new album with Alex and Geddy, he had made it through an entire tour.

It was, and is, one of the most emotional moments of life.

Quote of the Week

Might as well quote from the song, too.

The measure of the moment
Is a difference of degree
Just one little victory
A spirit breaking free
One little victory
The greatest act can be
One little victory

-Rush, One Little Victory

News and Works in Progress

  • IDS (5,483)
  • None Call Me Mother (Approx. 60,000)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AFS (2,556)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • I need to get back to doing my interviews and mag reviews.

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on The Feeding of Sorrows, of which I’m very proud.

Today’s Weight: 383.8

Updated Word Count: 147,777 (I actually updated this)

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
Short Stories

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

Rob’s Update: That Dark Night

Week 19 of 2019

Greetings all

Last week, I mentioned sad tidings of a friend going into hospice. Tim Bolgeo passed on Sunday and if you didn’t get the chance to meet Uncle Timmy, you have my condolences. He was a fascinating guy to talk to. He knew a ton about a number of topics, both of science and science fiction, especially the things turning from fiction to fact. He founded LibertyCon, was heavily involved with a number of other conventions, and in short was someone who helped science fiction and fantasy grow.

He was also very helpful to new writers. If you look at the stories about him, you’ll find, time and again, a writer remembering how Timmy helped them. I’m one of those. He was great at seeing good networking connections and making them happen. I said this on Sunday, but it bears repeating. He’ll have a share of the success I achieve in this field.

Thanks Uncle Timmy, we’ll catch you on the flip side.

I couldn’t be at his memorial yesterday, as it was in Chattanooga, but I remembered him this week by wearing LibertyCon shirt after LibertyCon shirt and writing a ton. The main total of None Call Me Mother will only show 14,000 or so words added, but there are a bunch more as I started a separate thread to input to the main document this week. I figured out the vast majority of the threads and it’s coming along nicely.

This week we had the stepdaughter visit and I took her to a Royals-Rangers game. Of course I picked the one game of the series the Royals won. Ah, well. It was good to go as I haven’t been to a MLB game in quite some time.

A couple of event notes. You might have noticed that I added a couple of events last week. First is Lilies, and I’ll be there the whole week, so come on by. Also added is HyperiCon in Nashville, where I’ll follow on the incomparable Terry Maggert’s coattails.

Current Playlist Song

In Xanadu did Kublai Khan, a stately pleasure dome decree.

In Massey Hall did Geddy Lee, a stately pleasure dome did sing

I love this song, by the way. In grade school, I was the kid who loved it when we got to Coleridge because if he was good enough for Rush to sing about Xanadu and Iron Maiden to do a version of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, then he was good enough for me.

Quote of the Week

Might as well have a baseball quote. This one is a great one for a new writer.

“Never allow the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game!”
– Babe Ruth

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (41,454)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • I just wrote. I’ll do the same next week.

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on my sweetie, who’s having to suffer through me hammering through this novel.

Today’s Weight: 388.4

Updated Word Count: It feels like a zillion

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

Four Horsemen Wiki: 543 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works

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