Category Archives: Conventions

Posts related to conventions Rob’s attended.

LibertyCon 2024 AAR

Greetings all!

I’m home from LibertyCon. As usual, it was the best of cons. It’s home. My biggest issue with LibertyCon is that I don’t have anywhere near enough time to catch up with everyone.

Before I get into that, I have to touch on the one true negative. The Marriott hotel was awful. I have a list of things they did badly, but suffice to say this: don’t stay there unless you have to.

But that just makes LibertyCon shine all the more. Despite the fact I know I’ll have issues with the hotel, I will stay there next year because that’s where LibertyCon is. I will go wherever LibertyCon ends up, no matter what, because the people who are a part of it are brilliant.

Let’s start with staff. It is the most organized convention around thanks to all these folks. Part of this is because so many of them have been doing it for decades. Of course they’re going to do well. They’re smart, skilled, and experienced.

However, that’s a thing in and of itself. I’ve worked in a number of organizations over the years and I’ve never seen a crew have less turnover from burnout. That suggests to me that not only do they want and enjoy what they’re doing, they process is made as easy as possible for them by the organization. They also like each other.

I’ve not seen every organization in existence, so I can’t say the LIbertyCon crew is unique, but it is unique in my experience.

In any case, my con started with a bang! William Joseph Roberts (Hillbilly) invited me to participate in the “It Came from the Trailer Park” panel which includes authors who’ve contributed to these anthologies.

Now, let me tell you, I had a lot of fun writing my story in the first one of these, but honestly, it’s been even more fun joining in on these panels. They are always a hoot! I got to riff with the Phil, Jenny, and Hillbilly who run the project and with Ian, Christopher, and a bunch of others who contributed.

And the fans! This panel was centered around the panel asking questions about their particular cryptid or monster and how rednecks would fight them. I won’t say all of the answers started with, “First, you make a roux…” but people left the panel contemplating Mothman recipes. Like one does.

As an added bonus, somebody brought Hillbilly a candy bar, the Flaming Anus chocolate bar. He loves hot stuff, so this was excellent, and perfectly appropriate given that it came in an outhouse.

I thought it surprisingly bland. Others had other opinions. I think everyone should bring Jenny Wren one. She was… um… amazed by it. We’ll go with that.

Anyway, I then spent much of the early afternoon writing and making some preparations for the party before opening ceremonies.

Side note: Opening ceremonies this time was the smooooothest I can ever recall, thanks to the amazing Kacey Ezell.

Anyway, after that, I went to one of the best panels I’ve ever been on: Worldbuilding for Epic Fantasy. You know the old line that if you can’t figure out the mug at the poker table, then you’re it? Well, I sorta felt like that here. The rest of the panel was Tim Akers (amazing), Dave Butler (amazing), Howard Andrew Jones (amazing), and Jon R. Osborne (amazing). What a lineup!

One of my favorite parts came when we talked about our foundational process. Tim talked about his background in theology, so he starts with the cosmos. Howard’s a classicist, so he looks at classical sources. I’m a medievalist, so I look at medieval ones. Jon looks at mythologies and religions, but on a less grand scale than Tim, and then there’s Dave, who’s extremely philosophical as well as brilliant.

That panel was the first of a long stretch. I went from that panel to cover the New Mythology portion of the CKP Year Ahead. We had a great audience for that, including a number of new faces.

However, at the time that started, I was supposed to be in the Author’s Alley, so I immediately ran back up to the Author’s Alley to set up. I’d prepositioned tanks near the Fulda Gap… err… my books near the area, so it went fairly quickly. I then spent until 11pm chatting with folks and selling a few books. Author’s Alley is nice even without selling, by the way, but it’s a bit of an oasis for actual conversations at times.

In any case, as I was hosting a party, my room was on the party floor. That meant I could stroll down a couple of rooms for a beverage and a bit of hanging out, but that didn’t last too long.

Saturday started with the Guest of Honor Brunch banquet. I always really enjoy it because again, I get to have actual conversations with a fairly random group of folks. I had a great table, as usual, and we talked about a huge variety of things. I suggest it to most people as it’s really good networking.

After that I did a Costco run to get food for the party. Chris had gotten the beer already, so I got ice as well. By 3pm, I’d basically laid out everything for the party that could be out of the refrigerator and arranged the room.

Then I was off to my reading alongside Dan Kemp. Neither of us expected anyone there as it was against the Baen Roadshow, but we actually had half a dozen. We both read from works in progress, mine being from The Feasting of Vengeance.

We had some time to chat after our readings before the panel ended, which was nice. I really enjoy chatting with Dan, who’s done a bunch of stuff in his life, but he’s often in a crowd so you don’t always get to hear him.

After that I rested for a bit, got dinner, and did the final preparations for our release party at 8pm. The party went great, I think. We were still going around 230am. I got about the right amount of food and drink. A little left over but not too much.

And there were chats! Lots and lots of chats. Good times for all of us, I think. If we hadn’t been on the party floor, I know we’d have gotten a noise complaint.

Side note: I really like how they do parties at LibertyCon. They put them all on the 3rd floor, which has only one wing of rooms. So it’s all concentrated there and can spill out into the hallway without issue. No noise complaint stuff either, plus there’s a bathroom in that hall to add to those in the rooms. Really, it’s nice just knowing that if you go onto 3rd after 8ish, you’ll find folks to hang out with.

Sunday was a slooooowwww day. I was supposed to go to the Kaffeeklatsch at 10am, but even though I kicked everyone out by 230am, I didn’t actually get to sleep until something like 5. Instead I rested and puttered. I did my book signing at 2pm, then put stuff in the car. By 6pm, I was at Rodizio Brazilian Steakhouse with a crew having gotten nearly everything packed.

Then there was the Dead Dog party. This is always delightful, as it’s a chance for people to hang out again. For myself, I played a game of Munchkin with Brandy Hendren (con chair) and Matthew Fanny (who runs registration). I won and got to preen. Great time.

I think it’s interesting to note just how many people were there on Thursday and Sunday nights. These bookend nights aren’t needed to participate in the con, but they are brilliant opportunities to be with friends and this adopted family. It’s such a credit to the LibertyCon folks that there were literally hundreds of people on both nights choosing (in many cases, eagerly) to spend $100s in order to be a part of it.

And as I look back at this AAR, what jumps out to me is just how awesome it is to be in this crew. I never see everyone. In fact, I know Sarah and Daniel Hoyt were at LibertyCon but I literally never saw them. Not even in passing. Talk about ghosts in the night. Maybe Sarah needs to add LibertyCon to her list of places in the Tales of the Muses Darling series. Either way, this place is about awesome people.

Monday I drove home. It took a while. I took breaks. I got home eventually. That’s about all I can say, though I did enjoy listening to Path of the Fury by David Weber again. I always find that book funny because the tactical commander for the bad guys is named Howell and the main bad guy’s name is the same as someone who totally had spanking rights when I was young. I’ll not say the name, as I don’t want to ruin the mystery, but yeah, it’s an ironic connection. I would’ve liked that book anyway without that ironic connection, but more is more!

And with that, another LibertyCon is in the books. I’ve already committed to running a party at LibertyCon 2025.

See you there!

FantaSci AAR

I have successfully returned from FantaSci and mostly recovered.

Actually, that’s not true. I’m not recovered. I’m also not recovered from GaryCon really. Frankly, I’m beat and FantaSci was a perfect example.

First, I had a great time, when I had the gumption. However, I just didn’t have enough to stay going late into the night as is my wont. I went to bed before 11 most nights, which meant I missed much of what I went to FantaSci for.

Of course, I didn’t really plan FantaSci well. In fact, I didn’t do anything right. Here’s a lesson, kids. When you go to a con, pre-register, register for a hotel room, and send a message to the programming folks. I didn’t do any of that. Fortunately, thanks to a variety of people, things worked out great, but I completely dropped the ball.

I rode out with David Birdsall, who is in Paladins of Valor. He’s new to the author business and I was pleased to see him get some great experience at the con.

We got out to the hotel Thursday afternoon. A bunch of us went to dinner and I finally had a chance to hang out with Chris for the first time in a while. Then came the only night I stayed awake for any length of time. I had a good time, even finally getting a chance to chat with Kevin J. Anderson. We talked Rush and IPAs, two thing we’re both fans of.

Friday morning I completed the New Mythology portion of the CKP presentation. Then I rested until my first panel.

Sharp readers will have caught that I didn’t register for panels, but Chris got overbooked so I took two of his. Plus, there was the CKP Year Ahead, What’s Happening in the 4HU, and the Paladins of Valor release panel so I ended up speaking in five, which is about right.

Anyway, the first panel I was on was “Hey, Do You Remember When?” This panel talked about older TV shows, and ended being a fun reminiscence of our favorite cool things about a number of great shows. If a panel isn’t necessarily about how to be a writer, it should be this sort of thing that celebrates what’s great in SF/F. A really fun time.

My next panel was “Is The Book Always Better?” Obviously, the answer to this is, “No, the movie is sometimes better.” To me, the book is usually better but there are times, usually revolving around some aspect of the cinematography or, more often, a truly memorable performance, like those in The Princess Bride. Rarely, as in The 13th Warrior, is the movie simply better than the book all around.

The last panel of the day was the CKP Year Ahead. Here we talked about a number of things, including the news that I’m opening things up for more novel/trilogy submissions from June 1-10th. More details at

Saturday was mostly centered around selling at the author’s alley, which is graciously provided by the con. During this, I popped in to talk about The Feasting of Vengeance, the conclusion to the Foresters story. I swear I’ll have it done in the fall.

Then came the Paladins of Valor release panel. We had David Birdsall, Edie Skye, Jon R. Osborne, Hailey Gregor, David Shadoin, and Nathan Balyeat there.

Not present, sadly, was Dave Butler, but Chris DeBoe had brought some giveaway copies In the Palace of Shadow and Joy, the first Indrajit and Fix novel. Indrajit and Fix are the only characters to have appeared in all 7 anthologies thus far put out by New Mythology Press. Dave’s a delight to work for, so it was awesome we could give out some of his books.

Anyway, we announced that, for now, this was the last Valor anthology. We’ve had a fantastic run, achieved all my goals, and I’m really proud of what we did. However, both Chris and I want to focus on longer form stuff. With the hiatus in FantaSci, which was announced by the con at closing ceremonies, it seems a good time to turn our attention away from the Valor anthologies.

Does this mean New Mythology won’t do anthologies in the future? Not at all, just that we’re aiming more at getting novels on the release schedule in 2025 and going forward.

I spent the rest of the day socializing as much as I could, but I just didn’t have a ton of energy and went to bed 11ish.

Sunday was another stint on the author’s alley, then I got to do something I’ve wanted to do for a while: visit Baen Headquarters. It’s a really neat place. A dangerous place for someone who loves SF/F. Thanks to Jason Cordova for the invite and the care package!

After that, I had lunch with my aunt. It was great to see her, but it was tough because it’s the first time I’ve seen her since my uncle passed away. I’d like to see her more often, but North Carolina is a hike.

Finally, I spent the evening hanging out with folks in the lobby. It was a relaxing, fun time to just chat. I’ve said it before, the best time of cons is the night before things start and the night of the dead dog. These are the times where the pressure of going hither and yon are gone, so you just chat. And plot. Great stuff.

On Monday at 4:45am, David and I got back on the road. By leaving that early, we missed traffic in Louisville and most of the traffic in St. Louis. I dropped him off at 5:30pm. I anticipated getting a hotel along the way, or at least getting power naps, but David drove across most of Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, so I was far fresher than normal.

I made it home late Monday/early Tuesday and here on Thursday I’m starting to get back into the groove. Despite the fatigue, I’m always more enthused and excited about work after spending time with Chris.

Anyway, there’s my FantaSci AAR. Time to get writing.



Rob’s Update: Guess I’m Going To Chattacon 50

Week 3 of 2024

Greetings all

Chattacon 50
Chattacon 50

Well, wasn’t that a fun announcement from Chattacon? In case you missed it, they’ve invited me to be Toastmaster for Chattacon 50. I’m excited and honored to be part of the list shown here.

I can’t thank the Regina, Lani, Lee and all the other folks I’ve met at Chattacon enough for giving me this opportunity.

Also this week, we’ve added a new mailing list just for New Mythology Press! Kacey Ezell is running it and she has a bunch of cool ideas for it. She’s much better at this sort of thing than I am, so at the very least, you might want to sign up just to see how she’s setting things up. I’m already learning a ton.

Sign up here:

Oh, and there’s a rather nice reader magnet for all who sign up, with short stories by myself, Jon R. Osborne, Kacey Ezell, and David Shadoin. Also, there are some legends from both my Firehall Sagas and Trisha J. Wooldridge’s 27 Kingdoms series. And, of course, snippets, including several from other New Mythology series such as Kevin Steverson’s Balance of Kerr series, Scott Huggins’ Endless Ocean series, and Christopher G. Nuttall’s Heirs of Cataclysm series. There’s no better way to find out what we’re about.

I appreciate all of you who are a part of my mailing list, and one reason I’m so excited about this other mailing list is I think it’ll help me do better by you. Expect some freebies from me coming your way soon, too.

I have yet another announcement! I’ll be at GaryCon in March. I’ll get to talk about Okkorim and, of course, play as much D&D as I can. It is the 50th anniversary of D&D and I suspect I’m going to wallow a bit. However, my big plan will be to hopefully meet a bunch more game producers and designers.

Thanks to Luke Gygax for all these opportunities!

I spent this week working on edits for Paladins of Valor and Okkorim. All told, about 10,000 words written this week, which is really nice.

I had intended to get going on The Feasting of Vengeance, but to be honest, I was going so good with Okkorim I didn’t want to break the momentum.

My writing philosophy is basically, get words on the page. Anything that gets in the way, like feeling I have to do all of the writing projects I’ve got going on, should be avoided.

And with that, I’ve got another idea, so I’m going to go do some more.

New and Cool

Did I mention the New and Cool New Mythology mailing list? Check it out here:

Quote of the Week

Happy birthday to A.A. Milne! Or would that be Happy Poohday? Nah, probably not.

But here’s a lovely quote from him.

“I knew when I met you an adventure was going to happen.”
― A.A. Milne

Dragon’s Tidings

We’re starting the long-promised game nights at Dragon’s Den!

Mondays starting 5ish and going to 8ish. First time will be Monday the 22nd. Hopefully some of you can make it over.

For the first one, I anticipate either a Session 0 of an RPG, Munchkin, or something else like that. Or maybe all of it, who knows?

Check out our class schedule:

New Mythology Works in Progress

Of note, this now includes our recent releases, so if you’re not sure what we’ve put out lately, you can go here and check.

Rob’s Works in Progress

  • Sowing Spring’s Wrath (3,213)
  • The Feasting of Vengeance (3,405)
  • Okkorim (48870)

Upcoming Events

Freebies and Cool Stuff

Woo-niverse Giveaways to Keep You Warm & Cozy
Woo-niverse Giveaways to Keep You Warm & Cozy

Woo-niverse Giveaways to Keep You Warm & Cozy

Hybrid Prologue
Hybrid Prologue

Plus here’s another author swap.

Check out L’Anne McMarie’s Hybrid: Protocol here:


New Releases

This week we have a new series! It’s from James Fox, and the series is the Sol Saga. Book 1 is Revolution and you can get it here:

Your pre-release this week is Foiled Ambitions from John M. Olsen. This is the eleventh book in the Four Horsemen’s Phoenix Initiative. Get it here:

Tracked Items

My Weight Today: 364.2 lbs

Updated Word Count: 14,509

Firehall Sagas Archives: 758 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Creator of the Firehall Sagas Universe

2023 LibertyCon AAR

It’s Wednesday, which is about right. I need at least a few days to recover from the awesomeness that is LibertyCon. I hated missing it last year, but I suppose I made the right choice. I am still married, after all.

Anyway, before I get going into my weekend, I want to take a moment to thank all the crew at LibertyCon. Brandy Hendren is a rock star among rock stars, and her crew is the single best organized con crew out there. I deal mostly with Rich Groller (programming) Matthew Fanny (gate) because I never get a chance to go to the best con suite around (Vonn Gants and crew), the art show (Ann Robards), or the game room (Misty Kat Gutierrez-Waller). And that doesn’t count all the behind the scenes folks.

That crew is amazing, but it’s not really a surprise. We often talk about how much LibertyCon is a family, and this is the core of the family. They’ve all done the job for a while, helping their family members have a great time.

I thank them all the time, but it’s really never enough.

Anyway, I was so ready for LibertyCon that last Tuesday night I couldn’t sleep. It was like Christmas Eve, so I gave up the ghost, got up at 430am and was on the road by 5 to Murfreesboro, my stop on the way. It’s good to have friends to crash with, especially when they make chicken and mashed potatoes for a weary traveler.

I got to the hotel early on Thursday and did a bunch of work in the room before heading down to the lobby.

The lobby at the LibertyCon hotel on Thursday night is a trap.  A great trap, a wonderful trap, a trap worthy of Grimtooth, but a trap nonetheless.

There are friends there I haven’t seen in at least a year, lots of them! I flitted from friend to friend, getting snatches of conversation, talking business, the past year, beer, writing, and all the other things in swirling conversations that make the Thursday night at LibertyCon one of the single most important days of the year professionally.

We closed down the bar and then went to a room party. This was an oft-used plan by many at the bar. Marriott might want to reconsider closing the bar right at midnight.

Friday was breakfast at the City Cafe. Sadly, they’re being forced to move a few blocks away. It’s a shame as it was only a block away from the hotel and it is really good.

Then I got into panels starting at 1pm. This was the Out of the Trailer Park anthologies panel led by William Joseph Roberts. He’s a really smart dude and the driving force behind Three Ravens Publishing. If you haven’t checked that company out, do so. They’re really good.

Anyway, I’m not saying I committed myself to writing a redneck version of Beowulf, but I committed myself to writing a redneck version of Beowulf for a future anthology.

After that, I was generally off until 8pm and my Author’s Alley stint from 8pm to 10pm. I was really pleased with how this went. I only sold 4 books, but I talked to a bunch of folks and that’ s a big part of why I do those slots.

More importantly, I had bought a rolling toolbox to make setup and teardown go smoothly. It holds 4 stacks of books, so about 40 or so without difficulty. It also came with a smaller case that holds promo and setup stuff like the Wandering Signature Chart and the big d20. I can bungee two racks on top and it was really easy, so that’ll be a help going forward.

I was originally scheduled to be on Author’s Alley until 11pm, but the CKP Year Ahead panel went from 9pm to 11pm, and I skipped my last hour (actually I donated it to Cedar Sanderson, who couldn’t make the con) to go do the New Mythology portion of the presentation.

And that’s where I lost my name.

I showed up to find they were mostly through the New Mythology portion and that Kacey Ezell had impersonated me. Apparently, she’s a better me than me.

A Hope In Hell
A Hope In Hell

So I took her tiara and tagged in. I got there in time for not one, but two cover reveals. The first was for A Hope in Hell, the conclusion to the Heirs of Cataclysm trilogy by Christopher G. Nuttall. This comes out on July 11th and it’s the post-magical-apocalypse swords and sorcery series you didn’t know you’d love but you will. The art, by the way, was done by Laercio Messias.

Then came the most exciting part of the presentation. I’m re-releasing all of my books under New Mythology Press starting with A Lake Most Deep on July 25th. This is the first of the Edwardsaga, the fantasy mystery series.

The Firehall Sagas schedule starts like this:

  • July 25th: A Lake Most Deep
  • August 29th: The Eyes of a Doll
  • October 3rd: Where Now the Rider
  • November 7th and every 5 weeks afterward for a good while, something else.

No surprise that I’m excited. These books have updated art, maps, new edits, and a better layout. Basically, I’m taking all that I’ve learned over the last decade and refreshing them. I’ve said a number of times that while I love A Lake Most Deep because I created good characters, a great setting, and a challenging mystery, I didn’t execute the writing well. No surprise there, it was my first novel. Now, however, I’m as proud of the writing as I am the story and this is true for all the rest.

A Lake Most Deep
A Lake Most Deep

Did I mention art? Here’s the other cover reveal. This art is by J. Caleb Designs, one of my favorite cover artists around. I think you can see why. It’s much the same cover as before, but it’s so much more energetic and strong.

On top of this, I’ve been pleased to get a couple of blurbs from other authors. Glen Cook, yes that Glen Cook, the one who wrote the Garrett, PI series, said A Lake Most Deep is “a damn fine read.”

Yes, my head exploded when I got that email.

Also, at LibertyCon, Larry Correia gave me a writer blurb: “Rob mixes intrigue, murder, and magic in to his own cool blend.” Plus, Dave Butler agreed to get me a blurb as well. I’m honored by their trust and hope to live up to everything they expect of me.

Back to LibertyCon. Following the CKP panel, we had a CKP YouTube internet thing. This was a hoot. I sat in the back and heckled, not that it needed my heckling to be hilarious. Check it out here: Uhhh, not safe for work, or your ribs from laughing too hard.

Saturday started with the brunch. We had a fun table including Gary Shelton the donut god, Ann Margaret Lewis (who’s releasing her first CKP title soon), and Scott Huggins, writer of the Responsibility series.

The theme for our table was, “Dammit, Scott!!!” The banquet was set up so each table would go up in succession, with the table number drawn randomly. Scott said he had terrible luck with this sort of thing and we’d go last, so every time another table was called, we yelled, “Dammit, Scott!!!” Then Scott McIntosh-Mize got in line and we yelled it at him too. He was appropriately confused. Then they said the last table to be called would get a prize, so we yelled “Dammit, Scott!!!” when we were second to last. We may have had to wait, but we had more fun than all the other tables.

Scott’s working on book 3 in his Responsibility series right now, by the way.

At noon I had a reading with Patrick Chiles. He’s a hard SF author writing with Baen and his first reading reminded me of Inherit the Stars, at least it had the same sort of awesome puzzle from James P. Hogan. That’s still one of my favorite books, even if some of the scientific basis hasn’t entirely held up in the nearly 50 years since it came out.

For myself, I read the new first chapter of A Lake Most Deep, which is much stronger then the first chapter of Farewell, My Ugly.

Then I had another long break until panels at 7, 8, and 10pm. The first was a panel on Writing from the Perspective of a Historian. In general, I enjoyed the panel, and David B. Coe did a good job of moderating it.

I think the key thing to remember about this topic is that history doesn’t have to make sense, but fiction does. Also, there’s always another level to the history, and at some point you have to cut that off in fiction to keep the reader in the story.

Then there was another panel on history, this time writing for history, and again moderated by David B. Coe. It wasn’t an exact reply, though, as it was focused more on worldbuilding.

He asked what 3 things we start with, and my answer is that all the worldbuilding has to provide kinetic energy to the story. Hence, I start with foundational stuff like the magic system and also the ancient history that is hidden in the epic fantasy quest. Then I start with regional stuff to create trade routes, political tensions, and such. Then I mention my Wikipedia random article process to create a database of ideas for characters, places, and events.

Then came the Great Tiara Exchange of Ought-23 and me getting a new name.

On the schedule it was the Valkyries panel where a bunch of authors in The Valkyrie Protocol anthology talked about their story. Kacey Ezell introduced herself as Rob, so I took her tiara again. This, by the way, was a huge blue-stone studded tiara as opposed to the simple circlet from the previous night.

I rocked it the rest of the night.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, as the Joelle Presby introduced herself as Rob. Then Melissa Olthoff introduced herself as Rob. So I introduced myself as Kacey Joelle Olthoff to much rejoicing.

All the while wearing the tiara balanced on my head. Did I mention it didn’t fit? It was just perched there, but I never once had it fall off.

Back to the panel, which had some business moments. Marisa talked about the plan to keep writing in that world, and that a number of books were coming out along these lines, ultimately concluding with an Avengers-like book with all the characters kicking ass. I don’t have time to write a book, but Vigdis hasn’t saved her last soul.

Side note: is available and I might need a new website.

Following the Valkyries panel, we retired to the bar to close it down. Then went to room parties. Then we went on an excursion!

I skipped right over the part where Trisha J. Wooldridge was at her first LibertyCon with her brand new release, Shadows, Ash, and Prophecy. She seemed to have a great time and is a great addition to the CKP crew. She’s also working on book 3 in that series right now.

Shadow, Ash, Prophecy
Shadow, Ash, Prophecy

Here’s the cover, by the way.

She was staying at a neighboring hotel, so we formed a party amoeba and escorted her home. Then we returned to the room party.

I usually do my major night of reveling on Thursday, but apparently I was too hyped to stop. I closed out the room party, then spent time helping Nathan Balyeat edit a story. A drunk editor can be good, but he either sacrifices his editing skill or his ability to phrase things nicely. Fortunately, Nathan didn’t kill me, but I was like a director yelling, “cut, cut, cut!”

Then I realized it was 6am and I had planned to drive to Fayetteville, AR after the con.


Well, I packed my stuff up except just what I’d need and took it down to the car. Went to the breakfast buffet, which opened at 630. Then I caught a few hours of sleep to join the Kaffeeklatsch.

After that was the Four Horsemen panel and suddenly, the tables turned.

They started the presentation and were introducing all the people up on stage when they came to an empty chair. Kacey Ezell’s chair.

Yes, I jumped up and did my best Kacey impersonation. To be fair, she’s a much better me than I am of her. I apparently can’t do a soft, higher-pitched voice without doing it in Southern. Still, it was a lot of fun and most of the crowd had been to the previous panels so was in on the joke.

At that point, I got out of Dodge as quickly as I could because I was already tired. I figured if I got out early, I could stop for a nap or two, which I did. However, leaving LibertyCon is not a fast process, something I appreciate. Lots of people to hugs, lots of goodbyes, and even a homemade cookie.

The trip home wasn’t terribly eventful, though I did make a detour when I saw the weather going through the middle of Arkansas. I ended up going north around it and getting a hotel in Mountain Grove, MO instead of stopping at a friend’s house in Fayetteville. Ah, well, I got home safely.

Overall, LibertyCon was as awesome as usual, maybe even more so since I’d missed it last year. Never again, unless I can’t help it.

All the business things I’d hoped to cover got covered, and more. I got to hang out with a people I haven’t had much of a chance to before, including Patrick Chiles, Howard Andrew Jones and the Holos. I met a bunch of new folks, too.

So, can we go back next week? I already miss my family.

Rob’s Update: A Dream Within a Dream

Week 3 of 2023

Greetings all

I’m back from MarsCon! It was as good a time as one could have with insomnia. I mean, if I’m going to stay up to 5 and 6am, I want to have at least been out reveling, but sadly that wasn’t the case.

The con itself was excellent. I got to hang out with too many great people to name. Probably the best part was going over New Mythology plans with Chris Kennedy. We’ve got a goodly amount coming down the pike. I’ll get into that in a moment.

I was on 6 panels, which is a great load from my perspective. I moderated panels on Food and Drink in SF/F and then one on the other jobs authors have had. Let’s just say this one turned fowl thanks to Kelly Grayson and Mark  Wandrey.

I was also on a panel of CKP upcoming stuff. There’s a lot. Just saying.

Then there were panels on Advice for the Late Bloomer, Researching for your Story, Creating Alternate World Histories, and “I Got a Great Idea For a Book.” Good stuff.

Back stuff coming down the pike, let’s talk about Hunting the Hart, the fifth book in Jon R. Osborne’s Milesian Accords. It actually went to the editor today and I’ll have a firm release date next week, but it’ll be out soon.

I did some work on The Eyes of a Doll for the re-edits. By the way, if you want the old versions for nostalgia’s sake, I’m going to pull them down next week, I think.

I got feedback on the new version of A Lake Most Deep and it was very positive. I’ve a couple of things to clear up, but it’s basically ready to go when the time comes.

I’m almost ready to send Bonds of Valor to the editor. That’ll happen next week. Cover reveal will happen in mid to late February. Once again, I’m honored to get to work with such talented authors.

It’s interesting. There are weeks where I think I got almost nothing done but look up and see a bunch of stuff. This was one of those weeks, and I know I didn’t do as much as some because I’m always a bit slow coming back from a trip. Still, I’m quite pleased in retrospect. Now, off to do some more editing.

What I’m Listening To

Tai Shan, by Rush. I know a lot of Rush fans get down on this song and it’s often chosen as one of their worst. That may be true, but I really like it.

Quote of the Week

Today’s a great day for birthdays, but in the end, the choice was easy. Happy birthday to Edgar Allen Poe, and here’s one of my favorite poems of his. It is, by the way, without any ravens.

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow:
You are not wrong who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand–
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep–while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

– Edgar Allen Poe, A Dream within a Dream.

Rob’s Riddles

I have a new Patreon where I write Old English style riddles and provide snippets of my work.

You can find it here:, along with a sample riddle.

First Line of Next Riddle:

In me souls are seen     And once were stolen

Latest Snippet: Chapter 2 of Farewell, My Ugly

Plus a bonus riddle! I thought of this one while on the drive back from MarsCon. By the way, it’s just one line total, so here is the whole riddle. I think this one is really easy, but your mileage may vary.

Occidentally, I weave innocence

New Mythology Works in Progress

I’m pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 FantaSci Short Story Contest open call.

Bloodheart, by Justin Doyle
Stars and Shadows, by B.A. Ironwood
The Unwanted Legion, by Casey Moops
The Coward’s Shadow by Fiona Grey

Rob’s Works in Progress

  • Sowing Spring’s Wrath (3,213)
  • Farewell, My Ugly (58,812)
  • Rick Blaine (8,845)
  • The Feasting of Vengeance (3,405)

Upcoming Events

New Releases

This week we have is book 5 in William S. Frisbee, Jr.’s Last Marines series, Genocide of Mankind. Get it here:

Your pre-release this week is, Point Break,  book 3 in the Guardian Covenant. This is a joint mil SF project with Chris Kennedy and Kevin Ikenberry, so you know how good it has to be. Get it here:

Tracked Items

Today’s Weight: 342.0 (I didn’t quite make it. I’d been aiming to stay under 340 with all of the holidays, travel, and events. I’d have made it, I think, if I’d slept better at MarsCon. Still, it’s not as bad as it could have been).

Updated Word Count: 29,234

Firehall Sagas Archives: 737 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Creator of the Firehall Sagas Universe

Rob’s Ramblings: 20Books AAR

I’m back from 20Books and I’ll start with saying it was an amazing trip.

I went with two overall goals: Gain the tools to level up personally and to level up New Mythology Press. Mission achieved.

Sunday night is when things sort of start. I say “sort of” because panels start on Tuesday, but networking and reconnecting is a huge part of the event.

I got a chance to hang out with some of the North Texas Troublemakers on Sunday. This is a collection of some skilled writers and artists from around Wichita Falls. They’re good folk and I don’t get a chance to really hang out with them much, but several of them were at the con.

One was Dorothy Grant, who I’ve crossed paths with before, but mostly knew online. This was a chance to get to know each other in real life. This last bit, by the way, is a huge theme of 20Books for me.

Another was C.V. Walter, an successful romance writer, especially her Alien Brides series. I’m trying to add a bit more of those tropes to my writing to broaden my skill set, and we had a good conversation about that. I put some romance in The Door Into Winter, and she agreed to take a look at what I did and see how I can punch that up a notch.

Also, expect to see her in an upcoming anthology as she’s got some great ideas and plans for valorous deeds. That’ll be 2024.

Monday started with the big vendor show. A bunch of people who offer a variety of services to help authors write. I found some intriguing stuff I’ll be digging through in the upcoming weeks.

I did have a chance to meet Jake of J Caleb Designs. He’s the artist for so many of New Mythology’s Books. He’s talented, creative, and a true professional. I can’t recommend him enough.

The rest of Monday was more networking and hanging out with a bunch of people. I had a great conversation with a friend who I’ve not really hung out with much in real life.

A crew of CKP folk ended up at Giordano’s, a true deep dish pizza, and we had a bunch of chats about this and that pertaining to a various CKP plans.

Tuesday started with a D&D game hosted by Luke Gygax. If you’re familiar with D&D, you might recognize the name. Yes, he’s related. In fact, he’s one of Gary’s kids.

I actually gamed with him twice, having a session both Tuesday and Thursday mornings. We had a blast, but from a professional standpoint, it was a great chance to connect with a few individuals more than we might have otherwise.

I’m certainly going to keep track of Gaxxworx, Luke’s company, and the setting they’re creating for D&D.

After that I hit Dave Butler’s editing for muscular prose. This was a very useful session as I not only learned new things, it also codified a number of things I’d sort of known but hadn’t ever lined out explicitly.

I’ve already started to put some of those things into use. Definitely a chance for me to level up.

Side note on Dave. We’ve been friends for a bit, but at most cons we don’t have time to actually sit and chat. We had a couple of chances, especially dinner on Thursday. He’s a great dude, and I look forward to hanging out again.

Dave was also hanging out with David West and Brad Torgerson. These are two writers I’ve interacted with on the internet, but hadn’t met in real life. Unfortunately, Brad came down with an illness, so we didn’t see much of him later in the week.

I especially wanted to meet with West, as he’s been pushing Weird West stories. As I desire my Libri Valoris anthologies to be broadly ecumenical in fantasy subgenres, I wanted to make sure he knew that Weird West fantasies are absolutely acceptable for these.

Wednesday was more panels, in particular Larry Correia’s one on action scenes. If you’ve read Larry’s stuff you know he makes these pop, and I got a few tips and tricks I’m looking forward to adding to my stuff.

Speaking of Larry, I also got to hang out with him more than I’ve done before. We had a fun lunch at the French restaurant close to the convention including Kacey Ezell, Nathan Balyeat, Mike Massa, and Larry’s wife, Brigit. Cheese was the biggest topic of conversation.

Also, it was great to actually get a chance to chat with Massa, another talented writer I’ve admired for a while but barely known in real life.

The other really useful session on Wednesday was Bryan Cohen’s Less Time, More Readers panel. This had a number of specific ideas on being productive.

The basic theme here was consistent mediocrity. Doing a little thing day after day after day will add up more than big days. We already kind of know this because we try to write some every day, but he pushed for us to do this on everything we do.

He also said it’s best to cut down on the things we try to do, but again, stick with them day after day, week after week. This might seem counter-intuitive but it struck a chord with me because it’s exactly what I talk about to people thinking about joining the SCA.

Many new to the SCA are intimidated by all the stuff. The great outfits, the bling, good shoes, chairs, wooden chests, and at camping events, tents and such-like things. They feel like they can’t do this because they can’t get all this stuff.

The thing is, no one should have all this stuff at the start. I started with tennis shoes, sweats, and plain T-tunic. This is still sufficient to start with. I had bag chairs, not wooden ones. Everything we used was modern.

But over the 25 years I’ve accrued this and that periodically. I made a chest, bought a chair, traded for garb, etc. I have a pretty good kit, but only after doing a bit here, a bit there, over all this time.

I need to do that with my work. Many, including me, often look at established writers and struggle to do all the things they do without remembering they didn’t do all those things at the start, but did some then added on as they got better.

I need to focus on certain things and get consistent with them. Then, when they’re programmed in, add something else. You can expect to see a few changes along those lines in the upcoming months. Some will be behind the scenes, but it will all be more calculated, more planned to do less, but more consistently.

Those were the three panels I got the most out of, though there may be more. I’ll be watching a few of the others that conflicted with other plans. This con, more than most, had productive things opposite other productive things.

Thursday, after the gaming with Luke Gygax, was mostly networking. In particular, I had a chance to really hang out with James Artimus Owens, a writer and artist who’s also one of the main people at Superstars. His class on cover art at Superstars was one of the best things I did there and it was good to actually get to know him a bit.

This conversation actually gave me a chance to consider the relative merits of both Superstars and 20Books. They’re both great for up-and-coming writers, but they have slightly different aims. 20Books seemed to have a much more granular, detailed approach to the business side of things, especially for indie writers who already have a few things out there. Superstars is better for newer writers, and also for those who lean toward tradpub.

Short version: both are great, but one can be better than the other depending upon your goals and circumstances. As both are expensive to attend, I suggest studying each to find the best fit for you. Most of us can’t afford to attend both in a given year.

It seemed like 20Books had more aimed at my specific needs, but again, this is something you need to determine yourself.

Anyway, the event ended on Friday with the RAVE event.  This was an open-to-the-public sales event. There weren’t a ton of shoppers not part of the con and we didn’t have many sales. However, this was a chance for people to show off what they had.

I had a great chat with a number of writers, including some I expect you’ll see coming out in New Mythology down the road.

Overall, it was a fantastic convention and I achieved my goals. I’ve got more tools in my toolbox, more connections in the industry, and more ideas to push my stuff to the next level.

I’ll definitely go back.


Rob’s Ramblings: FantaSci 2022 AAR

Greetings all

I’m home after a great time at FantaSci. This con is in the Research Triangle in North Carolina, so it’s a bit of a hike from Kansas City, but it’s well worth it. To put it this way, I have already bought my pass for 2023.

I got to the hotel on Thursday afternoon, and began the hanging out almost immediately. The best part of cons isn’t really the con, though all of it is necessary for my business, it’s the people.

The first afternoon at cons is therefore a great time of re-connecting. Then, Thursday evening we went to Trali Irish Pub for a group dinner. Then, there was drinking at the bar.

I got to bed far too late.

Friday, I had some errands to run for the CKP Party on Saturday night, then I was back for three straight panels.

Keen Edge of Valor
Keen Edge of Valor

First, we had the release panel for Keen Edge of Valor. In this, we get as many authors who are in the anthology to come to the panel and talk about their story. It’s fun to share all the cool stuff in an anthology, and we had a great time because it’s a great anthology.

Get it here, by the way:

Then we had a panel on Killing People and Breaking Stuff, including Mark Wandrey as moderator, Joshua Palmatier, Monalisa Foster, and William Joseph Roberts. This went over how much combat and violence to put in a story. The basic answer is that each of us have to develop a style that works with whatever genre we’re writing in.

Last on Friday night was perhaps my favorite panel on the week, talking about making books into movies. Carolyn Kay did a great job as moderator. Chaz Kemp, Cathy DeMott, and I went over a wide variety of topics and it was a hoot.

Then on Saturday we started with the Chris Kennedy Publishing Year Ahead panel. TL:DR is that there’s a bunch of great stuff coming. For the long version, go to

I had a bit of a break then before going into a panel on podcasting. There weren’t many people in the hall, but that became a good thing as Ian J. Malone sort of turned it into a roundtable. It was a blast, especially because Nicole Givens Kurtz is a hoot, and very, very sharp. Plus there was Kevin Steverson. Really good panel.

Immediately after, we had a great panel on overcoming Writer’s Block with Mark Stallings and Mark Jack Stoumbos. There are tools we can use, but one thing I want to emphasize is that we need to differentiate between those times when writer’s block has to do with the story and times when it has to do with fatigue, frustration, depression, and other things with the writer.

Then I had another panel on alternate history. I didn’t prepare for this as well as I should as moderator because I didn’t find out about it until Saturday afternoon. This is all on me because it was in the program, I just didn’t notice it.

Anyway, I had a Chuck Gannon and Dave Butler on the panel, along with Jason Cordova and Chris Kennedy, so I didn’t have to do much. They just got to riffing on stuff back and forth. At least I’m smart enough to sit back and let them go.

That was my last panel of the day, but then there was a huge evening of socializing. The Four Horsemen Dining Out that FantaSci hosts is unique, as far as I know, and an amazing experience.

Side note: Nick Steverson started the Dining Out off with a bang.

Anyway, then we had the CKP party, which went well as far as I could tell. All I  know is I spent Saturday night chatting and schmoozing until late in the night.

This last part was an issue, because on Sunday morning at 9am I hosted the New Mythology Press year ahead panel. I was really impressed with how many we got to come out on Sunday morning, because I for one wouldn’t have minded sleeping in.

Deadly Fortune
Deadly Fortune

The big announcement was the cover reveal for Deadly Fortune by Aaron Rosenberg. This is a swashbuckling private eye novel with swords and intrigue and pirates.

Then there was time to hang out until Closing Ceremonies. I got to announce the winners of the FantaSci Short Story Contest.

The four finalists were C.M. DeMott, Nathan Balyeat, Chris Hepler, and Jonathan Miller. The winner was Chris Hepler, with his story “The Torturer of Camelot.” A great story that was at the top of my list from the start.

I also announced next year’s anthology theme. It will be entitled Bonds of Valor and while the primary theme of deeds of valor remains unchanged, we’re also adding a subtheme of bonds between characters.

This includes characters in a romantic relationship, buddy adventures, oaths sworn to others, and any other bond between characters.

The submission details are:
Deadline: November 30th, 2022
Word Count: 7-10,000 words
Specifics: Times New Roman, 12 point, and 1.5 line spacing.

Get writing!

As for me, I’m going to look forward to FantaSci 2023. Tickets are available here:

See you there!


Rob’s Ramblings: Superstars AAR


This past week, I went to the Superstars Seminar. For those who don’t know, this is a seminar for writers and publishers of all levels and genres. It is designed to help us all level up.

For me, I can tell you it worked. Wow.

To start with, part of the process, and honestly in some ways my favorite part, are the opportunities for publishers like myself to have authors pitch their stuff to us. I really enjoyed this because, without fail, all the authors I spoke to had a great, professional focus. Most won’t get published by New Mythology, but they’ll do well as a group, I think.

While I won’t publish most of them, I did add several new authors to our team. I can’t tell you how excited I am about what they’ll bring to New Mythology and I thought I’d introduce them.

Class of 2022
Class of 2022 (L to R: Chris Kennedy, Trisha Wooldridge, Philippa Werner, J.T. Evans, myself, and Brock Kolby)

First, is J.T. Evans. You all might remember him from his story “The Empty House” from Talons & Talismans I. Courage takes many forms, and this story is a perfect, strong example of standing up for what’s important. J.T. tends to darker fantasy, and I have to wonder if the horrific car crash he was in at 15 where they had to to reattach his arm might be one reason. Anyway, we hope to publish a trilogy in his setting starting late fall.

Oh, and as publisher, I’d better give you the link for Talons & Talismans I. You can find it here:

Next is Philippa Werner who you’ re going to love. She has a host of writing experience, so much so, she’s already pushing me to up my game as publisher. She’s written under the pen names of Moira Katson and Natalie Grey. As you can see from those two links, she’s already done a bunch of great stuff and we’re ecstatic to have her.

Her first job, by the way, was at an apple orchard, and she still loves unusual types of apples and goes crazy for a really GOOD cider (none of that pasteurized crap). So, if you’re going to a con where she’s at and you have a great local cider, you might remember that. Just sayin’.

But wait, there’s more! She’s also building up a cool tool for writers called Scribe Count. You can find this here:

Trisha Wooldridge is next. She, too, is pushing me to up my game. She loves writing awesome characters and then putting them into positions where if she were to meet them in real life, they’d want to throat-punch her.

See? I told you all she’d be a fit for New Mythology.

I have to add, her story about her and her husband’s courtship is hilarious. He proposed to her using a rubber chicken. I wish I’d been smart enough to do that. That’s just wonderful.

Finally, there’s Brock Kolby. He’s very interested in the myth and magic of the Indian subcontinent, which, it turns, is also one of my interests. There’s a good chance he’ll write in Amaranth in the Eldros Legacy, and then also his own setting.

I’m calling these guys the Class of 2022. Obviously, I’m looking for new, great authors all the time, but like I mentioned earlier, there are so many writers at Superstars who are talented pros. I don’t know if I’ll walk away with this much awesomeness each year, but I’m certainly going to try.

Whew. Where were we. Oh, yeah, talking about the seminar, not just the superstars who are joining the team.

I got there on Monday with the intent of helping set up on Tuesday starting at noon. Arrived at the con site at about 12:30 after running errands to find out the others who’d gotten there earlier had already done it all. Marie Whittaker, who ran the con along with Mark Leslie Lefebvre, did a fantastic job of organizing things, and this is a perfect example.

So, I was able to nest and relax a bit before socializing that night at Jack Quinn’s, a nice Irish bar. Had a great time chatting with a variety of awesome folk, which also was an example of the week.

Wednesday is Craft Day, and I chose to take the seminars from Jonathan Maberry on pacing and the one on cover art from James Artimis Owens.

In both, I had sort of the best learning experience one could have. I’ve been fumbling along based on instincts  and I discovered that many of my instincts are good, they just need to be turned into skills. Also, I was able to find a number of new sets of questions I can investigate, questions I didn’t know enough until taking these sessions to even be able to ask.

I’m already introducing some of Maberry’s techniques into The Door Into Winter and the results are very promising.

Wednesday night was more socializing. The truth is, a bunch of the work that gets done is hanging out with a variety of new people. In this particular case, Eldros Legacy hosted a party, which was a great success. Thanks especially Chris Mandeville for bartending!

I had more than a few great conversations at the party, but the most productive was with Dan Bridgwater. He and I are going to collaborate on the Rick Blaine thread from The Feeding of Sorrows. That thread didn’t get explored in The Ravening of Wolves for the basic reason that his investigation of intrigue and conspiracy in the Galactic Union took too long. Each jump from system to system takes something like two weeks, depending on entry and exit points. In any case, we ran through a bunch of character motivations.

I also gave him a fun idea for a fantasy setting and character. Hopefully, he can find time to write that, too.

On Thursday, there were a bunch of good panels and things to do, but honestly, I really wanted to write after listening to Maberry. Plus, I had some other work so I sat in the main bar area and got words written, the work done, and had a number of great conversations.

Thursday evening we hung out at the hotel bar until very late. Side note: I’m not as young as I used to be and altitude affects things.

Friday was, in many ways, the start of my con. It began with a panel on creating a shared world with all five Eldros Legacy founders. This panel went great, I thought, especially since we presented Kevin J. Anderson with a custom-made Kevin the Unkillable t-shirt. Yes, it said “Kevin,” not “Khyven.”

Lunch was excellent, not the food really, but getting a chance to sit next to Craig Martelle and chat with him. I am very much looking forward to 20Booksto50K this year. He’s an impressive guy who’s got a bunch to teach me.

Then I accepted pitches from a number of new authors during the afternoon. That’s where I started gathering the Class of 2022 I started this post with. Again, I found the authors to be, without exception, professional and talented. They’re going to do some great stuff.

Friday night was the VIP dinner. If you’re trying to build up in this game, the cost for the VIP dinner was totally worth it. It’s a normal process. They put a VIP at each table, then fill the table with others, and that means you have a chance to really talk. In my case, our VIP was Nick Thacker, and I’m looking forward to getting to know him better. He’s very impressive.

Getting home from the Pinery on the Hill, a great restaurant, was an adventure, though. Shockingly, the place was on a hill. Great view overlooking Colorado Springs… while the snow fell. The four people riding with me in my car literally gave a great cheer when I drove into the parking garage.

Saturday, I started with a set of pitches, with a second set later in the afternoon. I was also on a panel about writing short stories. I was, by far, the least experienced person on the panel, but I think I did well. At least, one of the others, who happens to be a big part of the Writers of the Future, enjoyed having me there.

Then came closing ceremonies, where they raised a bunch of money for the Dave Farland Memorial Scholarship. This is a huge scholarship, especially given that Superstars is not a cheap seminar, so if you’re interested, I encourage you to apply.

After that, we had a passel go to Oskar Blues. There was the whole class of 2022, Chris, myself, and a bunch of others. It was a fantastic time to get the new authors seeing just how awesome our team really is.

Finally, there was the end of the con hanging out at the hotel bar. I ended up with another pitch session, some more cool networking, laughing and carousing, and wishing for more.

As I said, I leveled up. I’ve been excited about where New Mythology Press is going ever since I took over, but man, this was one of those times that just push that excitement to a new level.

Chattacon Schedule

Wow, I have a great schedule for Chattacon this year!


5-6pm: When to Argue with an Editor (Wisdom Boardroom)
7-8pm: Websites: References and Tools for Writers (Vision C)
8-10pm: Iron Storyteller (Vision A)


12-2pm: Chris Kennedy Book Tour (Vision A)
3-4pm: Ultimate What IF Party (Vision B)
6-7pm: The Art & Craft of Anthology Curation (Vision C)


11-12pm: Publishing: Self, Small Press, or Agent (Wisdom Boardroom)
12-1pm: Book Signing (Motivation Meeting Room)

I hope you all come by and join me.

FantaSci 2021 AAR

Greetings all

It’s the day after a con and I’m exhausted.

Which is as it should be.

First, thanks to Joel Lyons, the Lyonesse, and all the FantaSci staff (especially Yvonne Jacobs) for making this happen. We needed this, and it was brilliant.

The con started on Thursday, which is often some of the most productive moments of a con as people network together. This was no different. We had an “interesting” drive to dinner on Thursday, a group dinner including a bunch of us. You might say that the Lyons *nailed* it, in more ways than one. There is physical evidence. And also video evidence. Trust me, the physical is much nicer to see.

My panel schedule started at noon on Friday. From about that point on, I was about too busy to breathe until just about now.

That first panel was one about pantsing. The way this was set up was for me to talk about how I write, what techniques I use, and how I take advantage of what pantsing can do for an author.

Ironically, I prepared quite a bit for this panel, and as I did I realized I actually do a bunch of things to help my pantsing work. These involve character ideas and sketches, even if I don’t write them down, my notes using Wikipedia’s random article function, and my use of a variety of contemplative moments to pre-build the story before I get close to a keyboard.

Then I had a couple of hours to set up in the Author Flea Market area. This was a neat idea the FantaSci folks had. Basically, the set up a few empty chairs in the covered part of the courtyard and said they were available for any other to sell their stuff. I knew I didn’t have much time for this sort of thing, but I got a couple of hours, and it made it easier for me to have my books handy for the reading.

More importantly, I had a chance to chat with a few people, especially Barbara V. Evers, the writer of the Watchers of Moniah series. I really enjoyed this series and hope she’ll write more. However, I’d not met her in person. That’s fixed now, and she’s awesome. Don’t worry, I’m already nudging for more stuff from her.

At 3pm, I had a book reading. I read from The Ravening of Sorrows, coming out on June 18th. More on this later. Anyway, I read the scene where Hu’s Hawks, loaned to me by Quincy J. Allen, held the spotlight. It’s action-packed, but also sort of a separate unit.

Joining me at this reading was G. Scott Huggins, who read from his freshly released Responsibility of the Crown. This is such a fun story from a great writer who’s only going to get better. It already has 14 reviews, and they are all 5 stars because, well, it’s a 5-star book.

At 4pm was a panel entitled Herding Kittens. It was about what’s involved in getting an anthology to work. It was actually a wonderful learning experience, as it always is when I get to listen to Toni Weisskopf of Baen Books. She has forgotten more about the book business than I have learned so far. By a lot. Anytime you can get Toni in a place to talk about the craft of writing, much less the business of writing, it will behoove you to sit down, listen, and learn.

Then I had a small break, giving me just enough time to eat a little, rest a bit, and refresh myself for the 7-9pm panel on Songs of Valor. Let’s get this out of the way, I did not do a good job with this panel. It was the first panel I’ve ever moderated that was scheduled for two hours and I didn’t pace it well. Therefore, I didn’t have enough good questions and it was only David Weber’s ability to provide wisdom that saved the panel from about the 1 hour mark onward. Again, like Toni, it is always smart to listen to him talking the craft, something Chris Kennedy is benefiting from right now in the collaboration.

After that, we held the Chris Kennedy Publishing party. This went off very well, I thought, in part because of all the help I received from the 4HU Merc Guild. This, by the way, is the fan group of the Four Horsemen Universe. If you like the books, you should look for a merc unit in your area.

I will take this moment to thank Nick Steverson. He stayed up to the end of the party, which actually ended up happening both Friday and Saturday night, and made sure everything got picked up. I simply didn’t have the energy to do it, and he did a great job. We always like keeping the hotel happy.

My Saturday started at noon again, and it was even more busy than Friday.

I should take a moment and thank Yvonne Jacobs, who did a stellar job with the programming at FantaSci. She got the ball thrown to her at almost the last moment and there was a bunch of good panels and a great mix of stuff. She also worked me hard, given that I was involved in 10 panels. I can’t thank her enough for doing that. I might be exhausted today, but I know I had all the opportunities I could have hoped for.

Anyway, my day began with the New Mythology Press panel. This went really well, as opposed to the Songs of Valor panel. This one, I had timed out and paced correctly, though, of course, part of that is having good pros to work with.

We went through the various series currently going on through the imprint and what’s coming up in the year. There’s a lot coming up. We also gave a small teaser of a major announcement coming at DragonCon. You’re going to love that one.

At that point, I rolled into a panel on podcasting hosted by Ian J. Malone. It also included Kevin Steverson, our partner on the Dudes in Hyperspace, as well as Jim Curtis, a YouTuber. I’m still a n00b when it comes to podcasting, so I did the best I could, but mostly I listened and learned, just like the crowd did.

Theoretically, I had a break in the schedule then, but I had a bit part to play in Dave Butler’s panel. He kindly invited me to join him in his most recent book giveaway and we drew two of the names. I will mail the other three books on Friday.

Then we rolled into the Chris Kennedy Publishing panel. Man, Chris has got a lot of stuff going. My big thrill, of course, was the opportunity to see the cover to The Ravening of Wolves, which comes out on the 18th of June. Seeing the cover is always cool, because it’s one step closer to another book becoming a reality.

And I’m really excited about The Ravening of Wolves.

At 4pm I had a panel on Mystics and Magic. We voluntold Lydia Scherrer to be moderator on Friday. By the way, if you’ve never met Lydia, she’s a sharp cookie who is really good at getting things in order, as well as a great writer. This was a fun panel, especially with the brand new novelist G. Scott Huggins sitting next to me.

Whew. Reading all that makes me exhausted, but I did get to treat myself. I had a break to shower and change for the Four Horsemen Dining Out. This event makes FantaSci unique. It’s a formal banquet with everyone in their 4HU uniforms. Those in the military will understand the power of the Rules of the Mess.

After that was Chris Kennedy Publishing Party 2.0 where we brought out the coolers and *tried* to empty them. Chris and I both tend to buy too much for parties. Ah well, I’m sure someone will drink the beer. Eventually.

I went to bed fairly early Saturday night, as I had done on Friday. I was out of spoons.

Side note here: The Dogfish Slightly Mighty IPA is a huge hit with me. It’s tasty enough, low-carb, and lower alcohol (4.0%) as opposed to most IPAs which are 6+. These Slighty Mightys made a good session beer for me.

Sunday was a “light” day at the con for me. I only had one thing on my list, the Kaffeeklatsch at 9am. A Kaffeeklatsch is basically sitting around chatting about stuff with authors and fans.

But Sunday didn’t end there. I rolled immediately from that to a quick impromptu Dudes in Hyperspace podcast live on-site with Ian J. Malone and Kevin Steverson. We rambled a bit about the con, lassoed Christopher Woods as he passed by, and I got wet-willied by Jonny Minion. As you do.

Then there was a bit of networking/socializing before Closing Ceremonies. At Closing Ceremonies, we announced that James Chandler won the short story contest with his story The Hill to Die On. Really a brilliant story. Congrats to him. Now he needs to write more in that world.

Speaking of more writing, I took advantage of the moment to announce the next Libri Valoris anthology to be released at FantaSci 2022. Here are the details.

Deadline: 30 November
Words: 7k-10k
Manuscript: In .doc or .docx file format, Times New Roman, 12pt, 1.5 spaced
Send To:

Prompt: Write a fantasy story involving an artifact or named item.  This can be an item of legend, such as Excalibur or the Philosopher’s Stone, or an item of your creation of any type.  Feel free to make the artifact or item intelligent, and you can even make it your protagonist or villain. No matter what, the artifact or item must be a central part of the story.

Anyway, after Closing Ceremonies, there was the milling about and chatting. At first glance, this might not seem terribly worthy of inclusion in an AAR, but in truth, so much gets done here. Everyone is tired, but still excited and enthusiastic so ideas are getting fired at people left and right. Great stuff.

My most important conversation was the time I had to sit and chat with Terry Maggert. This guy is something special. Pick his brain when you can, he is amazing.

After that was more socializing. A bunch of us went to Tra’li, a great Irish pub. We’ll go back there again.

Sunday night, I thought I would be too tired to really party, but humorously enough, I stayed up late and had a great time. It meant for a slow-moving Monday, but I’m glad I did. Got to let my hair down a bit and chat with some people I’d really not had a chance to chat with before like Chris Smith, who’s a really smart dude.

Overall, this was a really productive and wonderful convention. I feel like I did all a publisher and author could hope to do at a con. I got to promote books, learn about writing, meet and encourage writers, and build both my own personal brand and that of New Mythology.

I also got to be with my people. How cool is that?