Tag Archives: Confluence

Interview: JL Gribble

Interview Questions

I met J.L. Gribble on a panel at ConFluence last year and we had a very good time.

J.L. Gribble Portrait
J.L. Gribble Portrait

What is your quest?

I love writing books that I want to read. For too long, the publishing industry has determined the trends and fads, so I love that my small press lets me experiment with my fiction and tell stories that don’t fit nicely in any one genre. Romeo and Juliet with werewolves and weredragons? Time travel with a twist? I’m free to stretch the limits of my imagination, regardless of whether such things are “not done” in the urban fantasy genre.

What is your favorite color?

For a long time, my favorite color was blue. I was never a girly sort of girl, so I felt that acknowledging my love of purple would be a betrayal of things I pushed against. Now, as I take a look around my computer desk, at my purple Kindle cover, my purple post-it notes, my purple computer mouse, etc., I’ve learned to embrace what I love no matter what I think others might interpret from it. So while I love epic high fantasy tales and intricate, politically driven space opera, I’m also not afraid to shout my love of contemporary and historical romance novels with their happily ever afters. In embracing that love, I’ve learned a lot about how to create real, well-rounded relationships in my own storytelling.

Steel Victory
Steel Victory

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

It all boils down to time, doesn’t it? You can’t measure speed without it. Like everything else, time has a price. When you’re working full-time, writing at least one book a year, managing two blogs, and trying to maintain at least some semblance of health, time isn’t free. I had to learn that it’s okay to say no to things that might be “easy” on my end but would still cost me precious time. It can be frustrating and guilt-inducing, but the best thing possible for a creative’s mental and physical health is sometimes to NOT take every opportunity that comes along.

Steel Magic
Steel Magic

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

I wish I was the sort of writer who could sit at a computer for hours on end and crank out the words. Instead, I’m a huge fan of the concept of “writing sprints.” Set a time for as little as 5 and as many as 30 minutes and write as fast as possible until the alarm blares. Then get up and do something else for a bit, preferable a task that does not include the computer. My best writing day ever was 3500 words. I also cleaned every window in my house.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Grover! Ironic, considering I’m not always a cheerful person.
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy chocolate sprinkles on toast. Creamy peanut butter in cookies.
  • Favorite Sports Team? I married into a Brazilian family, and the World Cup is currently happening. I am legally obligated to answer with the Brazilian Men’s Football Team.
  • Cake or Pie? New York style cheesecake. Preferably one I made myself.
  • Lime or Lemon? Lime, as long as it’s in a caipirinha.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? Queso
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Tawny 10-year port
  • Favorite Superhero? My husband
  • Steak Temperature? Medium-rare
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? M*A*S*H
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Summer!
  • Favorite Pet? I live with three amazing Siamese cats who definitely remember their species were once worshipped as gods.
  • Best Game Ever? Spinner
  • Coffee or Tea? All of the above, plus chai
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Both. At the same time.
J.L. Gribble Cats
J.L. Gribble Cats

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

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Rob’s Answer: To play for the Dallas Cowboys. To fly an X-Wing. To be a paladin of legend.

I’ve always been partial to fantasy.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

And where can we find you?

My schedule for the rest of 2018 includes Pittsburgh’s Confluence in at the end of July, Salt Lake City’s FanX Salt Lake and Washington DC’s Capclave in September, and Baltimore’s ChessieCon in November.

Do you have a creator biography?

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. She is also the film review editor for SpeculativeChic.com. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.

Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.

She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (www.jlgribble.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jlgribblewriter), and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits).

Steel Blood
Steel Blood

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

You should have asked when is your next book release?

People keep congratulating me on finishing my book trilogy. LITTLE DO THEY KNOW: Book 4 in the Steel Empires series, Steel Time, will be released September 2018 from Dog Star Books. Steel Time brings together the leading ladies from Steel Victory, Steel Magic, and Steel Blood as they encounter a literal race against time. The cover reveal is coming soon, so readers have plenty of time (haha, see what I did there?) to catch up on the three previous books!

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

Thanks for reading. If you’re interested in any of the other interviews I’ve done, you can find them all here: https://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.

Also, 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.


ConFluence AAR

Greetings all

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rob’s Update: Pennsic’s First Week

Week of 30 July – 5 August

It’s been a wonderful first week of Pennsic. Part of that is the weather. It’s topped out at around 85, which is hotter than I like but is certainly not unbearable. In fact, it was so nice on Friday and Saturday that I got all of my setup and nesting done. Usually, the heat makes it a slower process and I still have work to do on Sunday.

My traditional Monday night bardic circle went very well. The first song started around 8:30 and I shut off the big torches at 3 or so. There was a good solid crowd of about 30-40 and we never stopped performing. That’s not shabby.

Monday was also Dad’s 77th birthday. I took a moment during the bardic circle to tell some stories about him.

I will freely admit that Tuesday was not my most active day, since I actually fell asleep around 5:30. I did come into the shop and arrange all of my stuff and lay all the electrical cables out. Tonight, we actually run all of the lights. Then I basically went and napped. I got up for dinner, but that was about it.

Yesterday, I got some serious work done. I’ve decided that the best way to write both Brief Is My Flame and None Call Me Mother is to focus on a single thread at a time. I wrote I Am a Wondrous Thing straight through, and I ended up re-arranging everything. This time I’m going to write a thread until I the returns diminish, then go off to another. Presumably, the next thread will inspire ideas in other threads, and eventually I’ll weave them together.

The first thread I’m working on is Eleonore in Demmen and Demmenkreisen. I’ve gotten a few thousand words written in that thread and its prompted my next thread, which will go through Svellheim.

Tomorrow, I’m off to ConFluence, where I have a busy weekend planned.

Friday 4pm: Genre Blending Panel
Friday 6pm: Reading
Saturday 10am: Autograph Session
Saturday 2pm: World Building with Exoplanets Panel
Saturday 4pm: Playing in Someone Else’s Sandbox Panel
Saturday 5pm: Vogon Poetry
Sunday 10am: The Ten Volume Trilogy
Sunday noon: The Martin Koszta Affair

It will be weird leaving Pennsic for this long, but it’s going to be a good time.

Quote of the Week

This weekend is the NFL Hall of Fame weekend where the 2017 enshrinees are inducted. This week’s quote comes from one my favorite players of all time, Dan Fouts. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1993.

“Now that I’m retired, I want to say that all defensive linemen are sissies.” – Dan Fouts

News and Works in Progress

  • Sent in a short story in for an anthology. I’m waiting for a response. Waiting is hard, that is all.
  • Several thousand words into Brief Is My Flame

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events


One of the people I’ll meet this weekend as I’ll be on panels with him is William Keith, Jr. He’s written several military SF series, including some under the pen name of Ian Douglas. I’m a big fan of the Star Carrier series and the Heritage Trilogy. You can find his stuff at: https://www.amazon.com/Ian-Douglas/e/B001IGLZMC/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1501810168&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

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

Pennsic Plans

I leave for Pennsic on Wednesday. Yes it’s a bit early, but if I take my time on long trips I can also stop for writing.

This will be the third Pennsic (along with a Gulf and a half) that I will sell my books at Calontir Trim. Many thanks to Andrixos for giving me the space.

At this point, we kind of have an idea how things will be arranged and how things will go. I will have a table just big enough for my wooden display box and my laptop. I set my phone up as a wifi hotspot (as I’m doing right now at Brewbaker’s) and basically have full functionality.

I then spend from about 10am to 5pm in the shop, selling to whomever comes in, and writing when they’re not there. I got a huge chunk of Where Now the Rider written there last year, and I hope to get a ton of progress on Brief Is My Flame done this year.

This year will be a little funky, however, as I leave on Friday morning to go to Pittsburgh for a Confluence (http://parsec-sff.org/confluence/), coming back on Sunday night. I’ll be doing a full convention description and AAR while I’m sitting in Drix’s booth, actually.

In many ways, this is one of my most enjoyable and productive times. I’m sure it will seem odd to most of you who work a 9-5 kind of job, but having a designated time and place to go to work for a couple of weeks is actually quite enjoyable for me. I’ll freely admit I don’t want a permanent 9-5 schedule, but for stretches like this, it can be brilliant.

Plus, after working, I get to relax a bit and then enjoy some of the Pennsic fun with my friends. Pennsic may never be solely a vacation for me ever again, but that doesn’t mean I won’t have fun.

With that, I should do some writing. I know I owe you a full update, by the way, and I will do a combined two week one tomorrow.

Have a great day, everyone.