Tag Archives: Birka

Rob’s Update: Recovering

Week of 5 – 12 February

Greetings all

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– John Heisman

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

News and Works in Progress

  • Where Now the Rider

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

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

Upcoming Events

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


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

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels

Currently Available Works

Weekly Update Archive

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

More about Dad

First, I’m an idiot. Dad was born in 1940, not 1941 as I typed in my earlier post. I’ve changed the title, but it’s one of those silly things where I typed it, stared at it because something seemed wrong, but could never figure out just what it was. Anyway, it’s now on Facebook and Twitter as both 1941 and 1940. 31 July 1940 is his correct birthdate. Sheesh. You’d think I’d know.

Anyway, I’m fascinated to read these two obituaries, one from Larksfield Place where he and mom have lived the past couple of years: http://kotn.org/John-Obit-Larksfield.pdf. It includes the official obituary in the newspaper. Hit me up sometime if you want to know the whole story just how Harry Bear’s logic class helped introduce mom and dad. At least the whole story as they have told me 🙂

The other was written by people at the Kansas State Library: http://kslib.info/Blog.aspx?IID=357#item. This one is especially interesting because it’s a view from people I don’t really know about my dad. Also, I knew my parents got various awards, but it was never something they talked about so I had no idea about these awards that are listed.

I knew about his precedent-shattering time working between Boeing and the State Library. Not only was he the first they extended for a second year, but clearly the first they extended for a third year. Not too shabby.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about my dad’s life is that not long after ending that collaboration between Boeing and the State Library, he suffered a stroke and lost much of his short-term memory. Basically, he never got to really appreciate his retirement. Never got to travel much more after that. Never got to try all the chicken fried steaks and coconut cream pies. Never got to finally rate restaurants by shirt stains.

He never stopped smiling, though, in part because his dad had been such a grump about losing some of his mental faculties, and in part because he was a good guy. Despite that, it was frustrating, because he’d ask the same question over and over because he could never remember the answer. Wasn’t his fault, but my mom had the patience of a saint to answer over and over.

And I never really got to argue with him after he retired. When I grew up, we’d argue over all sorts of things. In this case, argue like Monty Python’s Argument Clinic, where we’d have to defend a point, even if we didn’t really believe it.

It’s still a little surreal, in part because I’ve been out of the house for 30+ years. He’s not really been in my day-to-day life, so as I’m on this trip to ChattaCon and Birka, I hardly miss him as he wouldn’t have been involved anyway. However, as the times come where he would have been around, I suspect it’ll hit even harder. We’ll see.


John Reid Howell (1940-2017)

My dad passed away Sunday morning. Mom and I expected it to happen, as he chose not to have surgery that would have increased the quantity of his life but reduced the quality.
He was a good man who had a quietly interesting life. Served in the Army as a redleg. Lived in Mississippi in turbulent times, once waiting with his landlord holding rifles on their laps on the road that led to the black church also on the landlord’s property. Lost out on a PhD by cruel timing, but in the end, that led him to computers where he had a much better life than he would have. Wrote the enrollment software in 1971 for Hill Junior College from scratch, and worked for many years in Artificial Intelligence. Decided to bring Kansas to the internet in the early 90s by making over 300 websites, including one for each town in Kansas and uploading a large collection of Kansas poetry. He did this for years until finally Boeing loaned him to the state of Kansas to do this officially. There’s lots more.
He gave me many things, especially a love of reading. There are hundreds of you out there who have scrolls on your walls with texts that I have written. Those don’t happen without him.
I’ll miss him. I got to say goodbye last Wednesday before starting this trip, knowing it might happen while I was gone. I’ll still miss him.
We all agreed I should continue, though. Sunday, I found an interesting place to eat in Chattanooga. He gave me a passion to try out new restaurants. Yesterday, I came to Frederick, MD on my way towards Birka. I’ll see some places I’ve never been before. I get my wanderlust and desire to see what’s on the other side of the hill from him too.
Mom is doing as well as can be hoped. She was with him, and they talked about the cats they had and moments in their life until he slipped away. She also has a wonderful support group at Larksfield Place, where such moments are all too frequent. I’ll be going there immediately after Birka and staying as long as needed.
Many of you will want to offer condolences here. I’d rather you didn’t. Feel free to hit one of the Facebook likes, but if you’re reading this, I know you are sympathetic and I thank you.
Instead, I’d really appreciate if you did something nice for someone. Something small. Don’t care what. Buy someone coffee. He liked coffee. Buy someone a beer. He liked beer more. Or just help someone carry a load of stuff. He was a good man, who would like the idea of nice things done in his memory.

Weekly Update: Time Flux

Week of 16-22 October

Greetings all

I’m running like mad right now to get the full first draft of Where Now the Rider to my editor. I’m about there, but it’s the point where I’m having to power through everything. Alpha readers can expect something this weekend.

I was at Time Eddy last week, and I had a good time even if the con was smaller than anticipated. I met some new people and saw a couple of old friends (Hi, Lee!). More than anything it was fun chatting with James L. Young and Anita Young, and meeting Dane Kroll and Susanne Lambdin. Author Air War I was a success.

I’m starting to prepare for my trip to World Fantasy Con. I don’t expect to see too many people I know there, but that’s a good thing. I’m hoping for dinner with Cedar Sanderson and Sanford Begley, though. It sort of depends on my schedule.

As promised, the recording for Write Pack Radio is live at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/writepackradio/2016/10/16/what-makes-a-good-noir-and-thriller

Oh, and I also received confirmation that I’ve been accepted to be at Market Day in Birka. It’s in Manchester, NH. I’m excited to visit the East Kingdom with my books.
There’s probably more to say, but really, I have to get writing.
Quote of the Week

As I get ready for World Fantasy Con, I think about fantasy in a more philosophical sense and I reminded, as I so often am, of JRR Tolkien.

“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”

– JRR Tolkien
News and Works in Progress
Where Now the Rider first draft will be done this week. Tentative release date is 30 November.
– The updated electronic version of The Eyes of a Doll is now live on Amazon. If you already own it, you can add wiki links by contacting Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/clicktocall (phone) or http://www.amazon.com/clicktochat
– I’ve got a couple of short stories in Shijuren rambling in my brain. I’ll probably start dabbling at those next week as I’m waiting for the edited version of Where Now the Rider.
– It’s also getting close to starting the sequel to I Am a Wondrous Thing. My first step will be to reread IAAWT which I’ll probably do at World Fantasy Con.
Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions
– Nothing, really. Been focusing on words in the novel.
Upcoming Events

– 27-30 October: World Fantasy Convention
– 19 November: Toys for Tots
– 10 December: Kris Kinder
– 27-28 January: Market Day in Birka


Cedar Sanderson is a talented author and artist. She’s focusing on finishing her degree, so she’s not as prolific now as she has been, but she’s got a cool catalog of art and fiction out there to get.

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell
Author of the Shijuren-series of novels
Website: www.robhowell.org

Shijuren Wiki: http://www.shijuren.org/World+of+Shijuren+Home

Currently Available Works
A Lake Most Deep (Edward, Bk 1)
The Eyes of a Doll (Edward, Bk 2)

I Am a Wondrous Thing (The Kreisens, Bk 1)

Weekly Update Archive