Tag Archives: When Valor Must Hold

Rob’s Update: Weird Albuquerques

Week 14 of 2020

Greetings all

It’s been a really productive week here. I’ve been getting off my butt and doing projects around the house. I had some leftover lumber from a project and built another 6-board chest. It’ll be finished tomorrow or Sunday. I’m down to touching up the paint, adding the hinge, and putting in the handles.

I also started a new bookcase that is explicitly designed to hold my collection of Analogs, Amazings, and other SF/F magazines. I may have to build two, but this all came out of lumber I had in stock with the exception that I’ll need to buy a sheet of 1/4in plywood cut the right dimensions to match the back.

I also decided to buy something that I’ve been looking at for some time. I have never had an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier because I get so little call for such thing. However, it’s happening more and more. Also, I’ve had very little need for a color laser, but it wouldn’t hurt to improve my signage at events. Color laser all-in-ones have come down to under $300 so it was time.

Writing also went really well this week, especially today. I’ve been pounding at one thread in None Call Me Mother for months. I have to get one person in the thread to the final battle and every attempt I made just felt forced. This snarl was worthy of Order of the Stick.

I finally came up with an answer.

And today was one of my most free and relaxed writing sessions in ages. I knew what had to be done, but this snag has literally held me up for a month.

Of course, last week was the release of When Valor Must Hold and I’ve am pleased with the response. I’m not surprised that all of our reviews and ratings so far have been 5 star, because I knew it was that good, but it’s pleasing nonetheless to have that confirmed once it got released into the wild.

As I mentioned last week, I have another short story coming out on 1 May. It’s entitled “Fire From Fire Quickened” and it will be released in the next Four Horsemen anthology entitled Gates of Hell.

Currently, I have two more short story projects in the works, one due in the middle of April and one at the end of May. Next week I’ll write the draft for the first one, which is a prequel to “The Chaos of Well-Seeming Forms” from We Dare. I’m working with Yvonne Jacobs on this one and we have some fun ideas. As for the second one, I have some ideas coming already, though I need to wallow in a particular style before writing it.

It’s been a busy week around here.

What I’m Listening To

Weird Al’s Angry White Boy Polka. Al is really a national treasure. If you’ve never seen him live, I suggest it, even if you’re not a huge fan of his parodies. He and his band are actually extremely skilled musicians. His schtick would never have worked this long if he and his guys hadn’t actually been good.

Side note: I’ve won a number of fantasy leagues with the team name: Weird Albuquerques.

Second side note: You know, that’s not only a great team name but a fun title for an update…

Quote of the Week

Today’s quote is incredibly apt right now. Weird Al is not only skilled, he’s prescient.

“Look
If you had
one shot
to sit on your lazy butt
and watch all the TV you ever wanted
until your brain turned to mush
Would you go for it?
or just let it slip?”
– Weird Al, “Couch Potato” from Poodle Hat

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (a bunch)
  • CB (8,418)
  • HM (6,374)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • I actually dropped the ball on blog posts this week. I kept getting distracted.

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

WVMH Orange Tag
WVMH Orange Tag

This week’s spotlight is still on When Valor Must Hold, which you can find at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086236WMT. Now up to 15 5-star reviews.

Today’s Weight: 398.4

Updated Word Count: 49,244

Shijuren Wiki: Making progress

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
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: When Valor Must Hold

Week 13 of 2020

Greetings all

When Valor Must Hold came out today and it has already earned an orange tag as number one new fantasy anthology. This is so cool, it deserves a screenshot.

WVMH Orange Tag
WVMH Orange Tag

You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086236WMT

I’m really proud of what we did here and I think you’ll all like it.

The final battle scene of None Call Me Mother is going to be epic and I’m loving how it’s shaping up. It’s been my primary focus this week. I also added a bunch of foundational stuff to make that battle even more powerful.

Incredibly powerful wizards, great heroes with flashing swords, and brothers fighting each other. It’s a lot of fun.

Wednesday I also got into a bit of a mood and wrote a couple thousand words on the next Edward novel. I’ve been re-reading Spenser and watching Spenser for Hire on Amazon Prime. Makes sense that I want to write some on my Spenser character.

Speaking of Edward, if you get When Valor Must Hold, you get to read how Edward and Deor met along with a bunch of great stories from all the other authors.

Also, I signed the contract for Gates of Hell this week. This is the next 4HU anthology and has my story “Fire from Fire Awakened.” This continues the Foresters’ saga with Rick Blaine working on a loose end from The Feeding of Sorrows.

Have a great week everyone!

What I’m Listening To

The Atlanta Falcons in Dallas to face the Cowboys in 2009. Man, Romo when he was healthy was so good.

Quote of the Week

When I asked the authors to participate in When Valor Must Hold, this was what I told them I wanted. I wanted them to tell me of the days of high adventure!

“Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis, and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of. And unto this, Conan, destined to bear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow. It is I, his chronicler, who alone can tell thee of his saga. Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!”
– Akiro the Wizard, Conan the Barbarian

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother
  • CB (8,418)
  • HM (6,374)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on When Valor Must Hold, which you can find at: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086236WMT

Today’s Weight: 399.6

Updated Word Count: 48,342

Shijuren Wiki: In progress

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

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

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

Interview: Christopher Nuttall

When Valor Must Hold comes out in 2 days! I’m very excited. Today’s interview is with Christopher Nuttall. His story is “The Game’s Afoot” and it sort of a fantasy Guns of Navarone. I think you’ll all like it, and I’m honored that he participated.

Interview: Christopher Nuttall

What is your quest?

Christopher Nuttall
Christopher Nuttall

I try to write the sort of books I like to read – action and adventure, mainly; almost all science-fiction and fantasy.

What is your favorite color?

Too many things to count, really.  I like decaying empires and how they can -sometimes – flourish into something new.  I like exploring the use and abuse of magic, and how politics can interact with science to change the world.

What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?

I’d like to do a really big story – something akin to the Night’s Dawn or Game of Thrones books – but I find them a little annoying.  In my view, each novel should be at least partly a novel of its own – that’s what I’ve tried to do with the Schooled in Magic books – but that’s difficult to maintain. I have these ideas that are basically AMERICAN CIVIL WAR WITH MAGIC or GREAT WAR IN SPACE that would be huge, but force me to write in a format I don’t like or narrow the story too far.  No room for character development if the stories are small, you see <grin>.  The only person who did that in a single book was Tom Clancy – Red Storm Rising – and only a handful of his characters were truly 3D.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

The series I like the most, I think, is Schooled in Magic.  It draws on so many of my hobbies – history, alternate history, etc – and lets me have fun.  Ark Royal was an astonishing success, in so many ways – I’m proud I got so much out of it.

How do I write?  I come up with the plot, I sort it out and then I start writing.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? [Insert politician’s name here.]
  • Favorite Weird Color? Black.  You can’t go wrong with black.
  • What Cartoon Character Are You?  I like to think Bugs Bunny.  More likely … Millhouse.
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received? A stack of books …
  • What Do You Secretly Plot?  I have ideas for stories that will probably never be written.
  • Favorite Sports Team? None.
  • Cake or Pie? Cake.
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Brown Sauce.
  • Favorite Cereal? Corn Pops.
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? The McCalmans- http://the-mccalmans.com/
  • Whisky or Whiskey? I don’t drink.
  • Favorite Superhero? Green Lantern (Kyle Reyner)
  • Steak Temperature? Medium-well.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Battlestar Galactica
  • Best Thing From the 80s? Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Spring.
  • Best Game Ever? Chess.
  • Coffee or Tea? Tea.  I go 3000 words to the pint.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Both.
  • Brought to you by the letter ___?  Q.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

And where can we find you?

Right now, I’m not due to attend any conventions.  My health is a constant issue right now – and I have kids!


Thanks to Christopher for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

 

Rob’s Update: A Scientific Pursuit

Week 11 of 2020

Greetings all

Made a goodly amount of progress on None Call Me Mother. I have one thread just about completed, a second that’s close, and a third that needs tightening up.

I also made progress on the final battle, which is pretty complex and I’m mapping it out. The best part about it is that I *finally* get to use some of the plants I placed in I Am a Wondrous Thing years ago. I’ve been waiting for some of this the whole time.

My word count actually went down this week as I’ve been clearing out some chaff, too. I’m in the 107k range, though it’s scattered among several files right now as I make sure the threads are complete and tight.

In two weeks, though, you’ll get some new Shijuren stuff for the first time in a while. My story, “What’s in a Name” is in When Valor Must Hold, and it’s how Edward meets Deor. It’s a story I’ve wanted to write for a while, as it’s in my head every time the two of them interact.

Tomorrow, I’m off to quilt stores with my sweetie. She’s got this quilt store quest and I’m driving her about to spend time with her. I’ll actually get some editing done as I sent one thread to my phone and I’ll read it on my Kindle. As I’ve mentioned, it’s great for seeing things in a different way.

Have a great weekend everyone!

What I’m Listening To

Blood Sacrifice Shaman by Tengger Cavalry. The Hu have gotten more popular of late, but these guys were the first Mongolian folk metal band I heard of. Unfortunately, their lead guy died last year. He was a hell of a musician and they’re well worth listening to.

Quote of the Week

John Herschel was born on this date in 1792. This quote from him is true of just about every endeavor.

“Every student who enters upon a scientific pursuit, especially if at a somewhat advanced period of life, will find not only that he has much to learn, but much also to unlearn.”
– John Herschel

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (107,000)
  • RQS (1,312)
  • CB (8,418)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Bill Webb, whose story in When Valor Must Hold is “Island of Bones” and it mixes old school horror and fantasy. You can find my interview of him at: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=2032

Today’s Weight: 398.4

Updated Word Count: 46,597

Shijuren Wiki: Rebuilding

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
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: Over the Top

Week 8 of 2020

Greetings all

It’s been a strange week where I know I got lots done but I don’t really have a great way to show it. My 4HU short story is about 1000 words larger, but that’s the only word count I can point to. If that were it, I’d be frustrated about this week.

Fortunately, it’s not it. I spent the week clearing up a variety of details on this and that, including finalizing my taxes.

One of the best things I can report is the advanced copies of When Valor Must Hold went out to readers this week. Each one of these steps makes it that much more real. That much less vaporware. The authors are excited, the publisher is excited, the readers are excited, so guess what? I’m excited too.

While I only show 1000 more words in the 4HU story, I edited out a couple of thousand and cleaned up what I got. I’m now at the point where I see the whole pattern and it’ll be done on time and it’ll be good.

This weekend, I’m going to an SCA event and then the first home game of the St. Louis Battlehawks. More excitement. Going to be a great weekend.

What I’m Listening To

Various big band jazz songs at Shameless Grounds, a coffee shop owned by a couple of friends in St. Louis.

Quote of the Week

Today is the 104th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Verdun. More people think of Gandalf when they think of this phrase today, but here’s General Petain at Verdun.

I might have mentioned this before, but my grandfather enlisted at the age of 14 to fight in WW1. He never got to the trenches because they knew he was too young, so they had him cut trees and that sort of thing, but he saw more than a 14-year-old should. I still have my copy of Arthur Guy Empey’s Over the Top which he gave me.

“Ils ne passeront pas!” – ‘They shall not pass!’”
– Henri-Philippe Petain, during the Battle of Verdun, 1916

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (108,716)
  • CB (8,418)
  • FSS (6,808)
  • RQS (1,312)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Jon Osborne, whose is one of the cover authors in When Valor Must Hold.

Today’s Weight: On the road, didn’t check today

Updated Word Count: On the road, didn’t check today

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
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: Purposeful Motion

Week 7 of 2020

Greetings all

It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve had to fight through getting words on the page. I’ve averaged just at 1000 words, but it’s been slow going despite staying at the keyboard.

I did make good progress on my next 4HU short story, and I’m approaching the main battle scene. I’ll have that done next week, though I’ll probably have editing yet still to do.

I also made progress in None Call Me Mother, though this was a bunch of re-arrangement. I have a thread I need to include in the final battle and getting the character there has been challenging. I *think* I have it now, but we’ll see. My word total went down, but as I’m at 108k, that’s fine.

The sweetie requested some small short stories for a project she’s working on. I got a draft of the first one of those written today. That one, at least, came out smoothly and easily.

I also wrote a draft of the Preface for When Valor Must Hold. In other words, it was not a week of legend, but I made progress.

Hopefully, the words will jump off the page next week. If not, I’ll keep plugging away.Have a great week.

What I’m Listening To

Cinderella Man by Rush off of Different Stages. A Farewell to Kings is a fantastic album and one I listen to frequently.

Quote of the Week

If there’s ever a quote an author should here, especially in a week where the words don’t come out easily, this is it.

“Cinderella Man
Hang on to your plans
Try as they might
They cannot steal your dreams”
– Rush, Cinderella Man

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (108,716)
  • CB (8,418)
  • FSS (5,668)
  • RQS (1,312)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Christopher Woods, whose story “Darkness Before the Dawn” inspired the cover of When Valor Must Hold. You can find that interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=2007.

Today’s Weight: 396.4

Updated Word Count: 30,443

Shijuren Wiki: Updating

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
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: I Will Draw A Chart

Week 5 of 2020

Greetings all

This was another week where everything went a bit wonky, though I sort of anticipated it.

I got home on Sunday from ChattaCon. I expected Monday to be a real down day as I recovered from the drive, but I was moderately productive. I had a great writing day on Tuesday.

And then Wednesday is when the fatigue hit. Ah well.

I got a bunch of writing done on Thursday, and though I never really had a chance yesterday, it wasn’t an awful week. I got almost 5k written on None Call Me Mother, along with a bunch of work on other projects.

Today is also the final day of a hectic two months since Thanksgiving. Between the holidays, I hosted 3 local SCA postrevels, went to 2 cons, wrapped up my portion of When Valor Must Hold, wrote a short story start to finish, and added 27k or so to None Call Me Mother.

27k isn’t enough for two months, really, but it’s not nothing, combined with the rest. I’ll take it.

The good news is that I’m entering my spring writing stretch with only one trip between now and the end of April, and FantaSci will be worth it.

Just keep plugging away.

What I’m Listening To

Red Sector A off A Show of Hands by Rush. Fantastic song with one of my favorite lyrics every. It’s the quote of the week, and it captures the horrors of the Holocaust in such amazing fashion.

Quote of the Week

“Sickness to insanity
Prayer to profanity”
– Rush, Red Sector A

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (103,801)
  • CB (8,418)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on RJ Ladon, another contributor to When Valor Must Hold with her story “Ogre’s Brownies.” You can find her interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1980.

Today’s Weight: 398.4

Updated Word Count: 19,998

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
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: The Art of Valor

Week 4 of 2020

Greetings all

I’m at ChattaCon having a great time. Yesterday was really busy, so I’m only getting to my update today.

When Valor Must Hold
When Valor Must Hold

This past week didn’t really go to plan, and I didn’t have nearly as much time I wanted to write as I hoped for. Since I couldn’t sit down for my normal writing periods, I focused on editing some recent chunks. I solidified several bits and scraps, sort of a 2 steps forward, 1 step back kind of week in terms of word count. The good news is that I’m knocking on 100k in None Call Me Mother.

The great news this week is the reveal of When Valor Must Hold‘s cover. It’s lovely, and I am so pleased this is coming to fruition. I hope it does well not simply because I like sales, but also because if it goes well, I might earn the opportunity to do another. I really enjoyed this process, so I’d like to keep doing it.

That cover will help, I think.

I’m sure there’s more to talk about, but right now, I have to get to a panel. Have a great day, everyone.

What I’m Listening To

Carnies by Rush. I listened to Clockwork Angels, the novel written by Neil Peart and Kevin J. Anderson on the drive to ChattaCon. A good story that made me want to wallow in the album for a while. Best album ever.

Quote of the Week

“How I prayed just to get away
To carry me anywhere
Sometimes the angels punish us
By answering our prayers”
– Rush, Carnies, Clockwork Angels

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (99,639)
  • CB (8,418)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Benjamin Tyler Smith, whose wrote “Hanging by a Thread” in When Valor Must Hold. You can find his interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1965

Today’s Weight: Not sure, on the road

Updated Word Count: Not sure, on the road

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
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: The Gifts That You Give

Week 3 of 2020

Greetings all

It’s been a procrasticlean sort of week. I just haven’t really had a ton of focus since Neil died to get much done, combined with an event last weekend, so I only got about 2k written on None Call Me Mother.

I did, however, get really close to finishing my portion of When Valor Must Hold, the fantasy anthology coming out this year. I’m really excited, because all the stories are really good. Team “And More” did very well, not to mention all the cover writers.

One of my upcoming ramblings will be an AAR of this process, by the way.

I also revamped my website a bit. Go to www.robhowell.org if you want to see what I did. I’m still messing around with things a bit, but it’s getting there.

Also, the Shijuren wiki is temporarily down for some maintenance. I want to get that out of the way before releasing None Call Me Mother, as I’ll be adding all the new characters, places, and everything else.

I’ll also be improving a number of pages, cleaning up the info, adding some details, and putting in hints about the series to follow The Kreisens, mostly information about Amaranth and Euskalerria.

In other words, this was stuff that had to be done, so I didn’t waste the week, even if my mind was elsewhere.

What I’m Listening To

Rush. All of it. On repeat. Currently Cygnus X-1 from Different Stages.

Quote of the Week

“The treasure of a life is a measure of love and respect
The way you live, the gifts that you give
In the fullness of time
It’s the only return that you expect”
– Rush, The Garden

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (97,812)
  • CB (8,418)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on Cedar Sanderson, one of the people who first read my stuff and gave me useful feedback, for which I’ll be forever grateful. Also, I really enjoyed her story Goddess’s Tears, which will be in When Valor Must Hold. You can find her interview here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?p=1956 and you can find her on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Cedar-Sanderson/e/B006WFPHO6.

Today’s Weight: 399.7

Updated Word Count: 11,660

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

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

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

Interview: Cedar Sanderson

For the first quarter of 2020, my Wednesday interviews will be with authors who are part of When Valor Must Hold, the upcoming anthology of fantasy stories published by Chris Kennedy Publishing.

Today’s interview is with Cedar Sanderson. Cedar is one of the first people who read my stuff. She and her husband read A Lake Most Deep and told me how much they liked the story. And how much they didn’t like the cover. Oh, the art was fine, but man, I had a lot to learn about title treatments and such-like things. She was very patient with me and has helped me a ton. That’s one reason I was so pleased to ask her if she wanted to be a part of When Valor Must Hold.

Another reason is that I’ve enjoyed reading her stuff. So, I was not surprised that I loved her story Goddess’s Tears. It’s an origin story of her Blood of Frost universe, where the hero pays a higher price than one expects to fight the evils around her.

Interview: Cedar Sanderson

Cedar Sanderson
Cedar Sanderson

Why are you here?

I started writing back when I was a teenager. I had actually forgotten about that until I found a partial manuscript – and house plans for the story! – recently. It’s pretty horrible. I think I was channeling Jo from Little Women. I know I started writing for two reasons: one, I ran out of reading material. Two, I’d always had worlds in my head and I was slowly convinced that other people would enjoy reading about them, too.

I started to read at a very tender age, so I don’t remember the first book I read. I can’t really choose a favorite author, either, because it changes so frequently, based on my moods. But I can say that I imprinted early on Heinlein, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Dorothy Sayers, and Louis L’Amour. Also, I happen to be named for a character in a novel, so I guess you could say that reading is in the blood. I write because I love to read.

I find myself drawn to, and writing, a lot of fantasy, which I find weird. I loved Tolkein and CS Lewis. Still do, for that matter. But I also find most modern High Fantasy almost intolerable with the tropes and the clichés and the stale pastiches, oh my. Urban Fantasy – Butcher, Correia, Briggs – can be very very good, but I had actually started to write it on my own before I was even introduced to them. I still find it weird, because all my life I wanted to be a scientist. So I should be writing science fiction. I do, and even my fantasy tends to have strong science elements in it. Still, fantasy is what calls the muse most strongly.

Describe your great Lab of Creation?

I work at home these days. For a year, I had a writing office where I went and there were no children, no distractions, just quiet and minimal writing supplies. I didn’t get a lot done there. I felt guilty not being at home taking care of the family. On the other hand, I tried putting my office out in the main part of the house in the theory that my family (three teens, a husband, and a dog) would not be constantly interrupting me if they had open access to me. That was a disaster. I stopped writing for months. It wasn’t until I started taking refuge in my bedroom with the door closed that I was able to focus and write again.

I use music to create mood. When I was writing Goddess’s Tears, I spent more time than I ought putting together the perfect playlist for it. If you’re curious, you can find that here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3V5Zg2dwDACe-V99XtclfNBqC4Fhkapf the title for the playlist is my working title for the story. Sometimes I can’t use music – recently when I have been bored at work I’ve been writing longhand in a notebook (shh… actually, no one cares. I’m still training in a new role and they know I’m unoccupied for a time). This seems to be working. The one creative nut I am trying to crack is dictation. I have an hour plus commute, and it seems I should use that time creatively but I get very self-conscious trying to speak the story aloud and compose on the fly. I’ll keep trying.

What are your superpowers?

I like to explore what it is to be human, and how far you can stretch that definition before it snaps. I really enjoy developing characters, and forging them in fires to bring out the true metal of their souls. Hence the working title of Goddess’s Tears, I was writing a story where the dross was driven out of a woman’s soul in the fires of hell itself. I’m told by reviewers and fans I do character driven stories very well. I’ve wondered at times if this means I don’t do action well, but I have also been told that in a couple of my books my pacing is ‘breathless’ which is, ok? I hope?

I rarely rewrite. I did with Goddess because Rob thought the story had some dross, and it was a great experience to go hammer and tongs with him on it. I think what we wrought is better than my first draft, and I’m delighted he spent the time on it with me. It was a learning experience. Rob’s Note: The story was always good, but I wanted more. And I got it. 

 What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you?

Oof. This is a difficult question to answer. I’m not going to get too deep with it.

The biggest challenge for me is that I have a career I enjoy very much, on top of the writing, and being an active artist. I’m busy – often too busy – and it’s frustrating to have ideas but no time to bring them to life. When I was still in college (the second time, almost 20 years after the first attempt) I was able to juggle classes, and write. But now that I’m a full time chemist, I come home drained. That, and teenagers are almost as hard as toddlers. I thought they’d be more independent, but nope!

I have several manuscripts in various states of completion. I’m struggling to finish any of them. The problem with some is that it’s been too long since I worked on it last, and I’d have to re-read it before I could start fresh. With 70,000 words on one (another Underhill book) that’s a daunting task. And I blocked on it for a reason, so I have to unpick where I went wrong and correct that. I’m a pantser. If I try to outline, I lose the story. So my recommendation is to plow ahead on a project and finish it. Don’t set it aside and come back months later scratching your head and wondering where you were going with that. Or abandon it entirely and call it practice. I’m too stubborn to do that last.

 Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Beaker
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Dead South
  • Favorite Superhero? Captain America
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? I grew up without television. I’m not sure what was on in the 70s.
  • Favorite Weird Color? Chartreuse
  • Favorite Sports Team? I don’t watch sports?
  • Best Game Ever? Oh, I really like Fluxx, with all the variations. There’s a Chemistry version!
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Spring
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received? A friend and fan sent me several fountain pens. So wonderful for drawing!
  • What Cartoon Character Are You? Jessica Rabbit
  • Your Wrestler Name? La Bunuela!
  • Your Signature Wrestling Move? Boiling oil pour
  • What Do You Secretly Plot? How to go back to graduate school.
  • How Will You Conquer the World? Bake it cookies and lull it before… but I say too much.
  • Best Thing From the 80s? Die Hard
  • Favorite Historical Period? 1940s (WWII era)
  • Most Interesting Person In History? Dmitri Mendeleev
  • Steak Temperature? Blue
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Bacon Horseradish
  • Favorite Cereal? Steel-cut Oats
  • What Do You Eat For Your Last Meal? Chicken and Dumplings
  • Beverage(s) of Choice? Soda? Diet Dr. Pepper. Stimulant? Mead, preferably cherry mead.
  • Do You Have Pets? We have a dog, Tricksy, and two cats who are living with our daughter but were my office cats, Addie and Evie.
  • What Actor or Actress Should Portray You in Your Biopic? Scarlett Johansson
  • What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round? Ask about favorite food or thing to cook!

What question(s) would you like to ask me?

So other than Butter Tarts, what are your favorite foods?

Rob’s Answer: Steak (medium rare, blackened, with garlic butter), Butter Chicken, fresh bread with butter and honey, biscuits and gravy (having already buttered the biscuits), and, uhhhh, butter, I guess?

When you write, do you share the story with anyone? I often use alpha readers when I get stuck on something.

Rob’s Answer: I think you have to at some point. It’s almost impossible for me to really judge what I’m writing. I mean, I know I like it, but I don’t know if anyone else will. I will say one of the best compliments I’ve ever had is when James Young said something like, “I know it’ll be good. It’s you.” That’s an awesome thing to hear, but I don’t believe it until someone else has given me honest input.

When you get discouraged, how do you cheer yourself up?

Rob’s Answer: Hmmm. This is a tough one, because I don’t always have a good answer here. I feel better anytime I complete something, even if it’s just the dishes. Procrasticleaning is a thing, y’all. It’s the days I go to bed having not accomplished anything that bug me, so I guess my answer is to finish a thing. Oddly, I can say that here, but I don’t necessarily think about it when I need to.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

  • My website is www.cedarwrites.com
  • My amazon page is: https://www.amazon.com/Cedar-Sanderson/e/B006WFPHO6
  • My latest novel is Possum Creek Massacre, a paranormal police procedural set in the Appalachians. The stories are drawn from family and true crime and my own forensic studies. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07SQNLMPP
  • I’m working with my writing group on a weekly prompt challenge. You give a prompt, and are randomly assigned one in return. It’s a ton of fun, and a great way to get writing if you are having trouble gaining momentum. I started doing the group, and the challenge, as a way to give back to the community. Paying it forward for all those who have encouraged me or poked and prodded me along the way. If anyone wants to play along, check it out here: https://moreoddsthanends.home.blog/

And where can we find you?

I’m not planning any event appearances in 2020. I’ll be attending MarCon as a guest, incognito with family. I’ll be taking my kids to GemCity ComicCon, and probably the same for CincyComiCon as well. Happy to meet up if you happen to be there!

Do you have a creator biography?

Cedar Sanderson is an author, artist, and a scientist. Her varied career lends extra flavor to her works of art, and her insatiable reading appetite once led her to run out of reading material and start writing her own. She hasn’t stopped yet. Perennially inquisitive, she wants to know more about everything and will ask strange questions if you stand still long enough to let her. Works in print include her popular urban fantasy (with very little urban) Pixie for Hire series, her space opera Tanager’s Fledglings, and her young Adult series Children of Myth, as well as a couple dozen shorter works that would make this bio too long to name them. Her cover art and design grace the covers of other authors as well as her own, and her cute dragon character appears in his own coloring book, Inktail & Friends.

Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?

You should have asked me what inspired me to write Goddess’s Tears?

Reading Jirel of Joiry. I hadn’t read it until about a year ago, and I promptly fell in love with it. The character really connected with me – I don’t want to spoil it, but the character falls in love with someone you really don’t expect and in a way you don’t see coming. But it wasn’t that. It was the chin up and face forward into the darkness. Do your duty if it sees you walk through hell. I lived that. I wanted to capture a little of that sheer chutzpah in a story of my own. I hope I succeeded in even a very small way.


Thanks to Cedar for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you have any suggestions or comments about this interview format, let me know so I can keep tweaking it.

Also, thanks to you for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: http://robhowell.org/blog/?cat=326. If you are a creator, especially an independent creator, and you want to be spotlighted in a future interview, email me at rob@robhowell.org.

Finally, if you want to join my mailing list, where I’ll announce every interview, as well as what’s going on in my life, go to www.robhowell.org and fill out the form (Name and Email Address) or drop me an email and I’ll add you.

Have a great day.

Rob Howell