Tag Archives: Glen Cook

Interview: Nathan Balyeat

We continue our interviews from Keen Edge of Valor with the FNG, Nathan Balyeat. He was one of our four finalists for the FantaSci contest, so clearly I really enjoyed his story, especially the twist at the end.

This is, by the way, his first published story, and it better darn well not be his last.

Nathan Balyeat

  1. Why are you here? This includes influences, favorite creators, steps along the way, and dreams down the road.

I’ve always wanted to be an author, but in a classic act of self-sabotage over many years, I have been my own worst enemy. I’ve had a legitimate hesitancy to put words on a page because there’s no way that it would ever be as good as the authors that I love.

But over the years, I’ve spent time with the authors that I love, and they’ve been nothing but encouraging about doing it. Their consistent advice?  Just do it.

So, I did. Special thanks to Chuck Gannon, Kevin Ikenberry, Jason Cordova, Mike Massa and you, Rob, for the encouragement.

I could list a dozen favorite authors and have a different reason for why they are my favorite, but I’m honestly over the moon to be in the same anthology as one of them, Glen Cook

Right now, I’m focusing most of my writing efforts on a science fiction novel and series inspired by the life of William Marshal.  I do plan on continuing to do short stories set in the Five Kingdoms and the world of the Fellblade as well.

  1. Describe your great Lab of Creation? This includes where you work, what do you listen to (if anything), things you have to have in your work environment, and stuff you’ve tried that haven’t worked.

The biggest challenge to productivity for me if finding somewhere to write that isn’t my desk at home. I have an amazing setup, but I find there’s too many things demanding my attention and that I’m not able to easily switch my mental state from those things to the world in my head.

My best productivity is done with a cup of coffee and noise canceling headphones running a random playlist. There’s a handful of songs I have reserved for writing certain scenes, but telling you what they are might spoil a future surprise.

  1. What are your superpowers? This includes things you like your creations, specific techniques you do well, and some favorite successes.

I’m not sure that I’ve leveled up enough as a writer yet to have a specific style or something that I can claim that I do well.

I have spent my life studying history and got my degree in it, so I’d like to hope that I’m able to bring some of that to life without subjecting my readers to infodumps and walls of text.

  1. What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you? This includes challenges you’ve faced that frustrated you, learning experiences, techniques for overcoming creative challenges, things you’d have done differently, and advice for new writers.

As I mentioned before, I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to writing. There’s always this little voice that says “it’s too much work,” or “you’ll never be good enough.”

There’s an epic saga I’d like to tell at some point, and I’ve spent decades convincing myself that I’m not skilled enough to tell that story. I’m convinced that I’m right on that front.

So, I compromised with myself and am writing a another saga that’s not quite as epic first. I have a brute force approach to productivity right now where it’s a matter of just sitting down to do it.

Lightning Round
    • Actor/Actress You’d Like to Play Any Character You’ve Created: Charlie Cox would make a fantastic protagonist… might be taking some inspiration from him for another project.
    • Favorite Muppet? In my (very small) World of Tanks clan, I’m Sam the Eagle for being so serious. Really though, it’s Gonzo’s chickens.  Poor birds…
    • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?  Jain. She’s a French singer/performer, singing in heavily accented English, who spent a lot of time living in Africa.  She has a unique style, with catchy beats and upbeat lyrics and themes.
    • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? There’s a few weeks in the fall in the Midwest that are just about perfect.  You can keep the winters though.
    • Favorite Superhero? It has been Daredevil since I was a little kid.
    • Best Game Ever? The one that you’re playing with your friends.
    • Favorite 1970s TV show? M*A*S*H
    • Nathan's Support Squad
      Nathan’s Support Squad

      Do You Have Pets? (provide pictures if you want) I have three, large, healthy weight cats.  Hannibal (Grey and almost 20lbs), his littermate Murdock (orange and fluffy at 15lbs), and the new kid, Peanut that I rescued at 8 weeks old from a diner parking lot last year after two weeks of trying.  He’s trending to be around 18lbs, but is still growing.

    • Favorite Weird Color? French Blue
    • Best Present You’ve Ever Received? A set of carbon steel skillets.
    • Favorite Sports Team? Sadly, I’m a masochist here and continue to cheer for the Detroit Lions.
    • What Cartoon Character Are You? I identify the most with Frye from Futurama.
    • Your Wrestler Name? Bad Grammar
    • Your Signature Wrestling Move? The Plot Twist
    • What Do You Secretly Plot? The same thing we do every night, Pinky, to try and take over the world.
    • How Will You Conquer the World? By accident.
    • Best Thing From the 60s/70s/80s/90s? (pick your preferred decade) mp3s from the late 90s started making a lot of music that was out of print available again.  Those cassette tapes that I lost as a kid could be found once more online.  Now I can fit more songs than I can listen to in a year on a drive that fits in the palm of my hand.
    • Favorite Historical Period? Principate Rome, but I’m using 12th century England as an inspiration for my current project.
    • Person In History (Living or Dead) You Want To Hang Out With? William Marshal.  Coincidentally, from 12th century England.
    • Steak Temperature? Medium Rare
    • Favorite Chip Dip?  I don’t always dip my chips, but when I do they are corn chips and it is guacamole.
    • Beverage(s) of Choice? Coffee is kind of a requirement to stay functional and creative anymore, but for relaxation a well made rye old fashioned does the trick.
    • What Actor or Actress Should Portray You in Your Biopic? Nobody should be subjected to that script.
    • What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round?  Favorite Dad Joke… mine is: “Why do seagulls fly over the sea?” Answer: “Because if they flew over the bay, they’d be bagels.”

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

  • Keen Edge of Valor is my first published work. I have a very small, and temporary, blog at https://heavyweighsin.wordpress.com/.
  • You can also find me on the new Mythology Press Discord.

And where can we find you?

My 2022 convention plans include attending FantaSci in March and LibertyCon in June.  Let me know if there’s a good convention elsewhere I should attend.

Do you have a creator biography?

Nathan is a US Marine Corps veteran who is currently a project manager by day, historian by education, and writer because the voices in his head have become too loud to keep locked up anymore.  He currently lives in Michigan where he is working on more stories to share, including a science fiction series inspired by the life of William Marshal.

* * * * *

Just so there’s no confusion, if Nathan doesn’t come through with a fantasy adaptation of William the Marshal’s life, I’m gonna…

Well, I don’t know what I’m gonna do. Can’t kick him in the shins, he’s meaner and tougher than I am. Can’t insult him online, he’s my Pathfinder Gamemaster and I like my character. Can’t not offer him beverages, not in my nature, and besides, he’s actually a skilled mixologist so that wouldn’t be much of a hit.

But still, I wants it…

 

Songs of Valor

Songs of Valor came out on Friday, and boy, do we have a bunch of readers to thank. We hit number one new release in a couple of categories and were top ten overall in some categories as well. A worthy start to a great book.

As part of the lead-in to release date, I did some story sketches, along with some fun nicknames for our authors. I thought it’d be cool to gather those sketches together. Plus, I didn’t do the nicknames for the initial three authors, because it sort of happened in that post and then a number of people enjoyed them.

So here we go:

The first story is by the Grand Admiral, David Weber, and is called The Dragon and the Drunkard. Such an honor to work with David, and this was one of his first stories ever. It’s perfect for a release this week, as this story involves a leprechaun, a dragon, the Rainbow Bridge, and an interesting legal situation. And scotch. Lots of scotch. I like scotch, by the way.

Next is the Beerzerker, Jon Osborne. This story, Smoke and Shadow. is another from his really cool urban fantasy Milesian Accords series. In general, I love stories that mix mythologies and look at them in new ways. This is something Jon does really well. Also, spoiler alert, buy some jellybeans. You’ll find out just how important they can be in this story.

Third is Benjamin Tyler Smith‘s On a Wing and a Train. Side note here, one possible name is the Shirker, because he clearly planned for their baby to be born on the same day as Songs of Valor just so he didn’t have to help promote everything. Clearly. Some people will do anything to get out of promo work.

Anyway, Benjamin’s real nickname is Speaker to Dead Things because I love his fantastic Necrolopolis series, and this is another story in that series. The elevator pitch: The mean streets of the City of the Dead are no place for an honest necromancer, even if he is drinking buddies with the God of Death. Especially when he has a partner who really puts the fatale into femme fatale. By the way, this is the first of five stories in the anthology that are winners of the FantaSci short story contest. Also, he says he’s got a Necrolopolis novel on the way, and I’m really excited to see it.

Next comes from the Big Boss, Chris Kennedy himself. This is a great coming of age story called The One You’d Least Expect. I love stories where someone grows into the challenge. This is one of those, and it’s especially interesting because of the nature of those in question. Also, just saying, this is an *origin* story, so maybe one day I can nag him into a full-length novel. Or series. Because he’s not busy doing other things, of course.

Next, the Bright Newbie, Melissa Moroney Olthoff. I call her the bright one because she’s so cheerful and enthusiastic. Even so, Oathbreakeris a tough, gritty story of love, strength, and courage. It will leave you wanting more, as it did for me. This was the second of the winners of the FantaSci short story contest.

Who else could the Crusty Old Sergeant be but Kevin Steverson? Changes is a story in his Balance of Kerr universe, and I really like it because it gives him a chance to expand that world and add some really cool characters with his normal fast-paced sort of adventure. It will come as no surprise to those who gamed with me in the RPGA back in the 90s that Londar is my favorite character.

Captain Mohawk is, of course, Quincy J Allen and he wrote another Rellen story entitled What the Eye Sees. This is high end swords and sorcery stuff, with a hint of noir. Spoiler alert. I foresee huge things for Rellen in 2022. Huge with a capital huge.

Next is Songbird by the Mountie, who is obviously Jamie Ibson. Now he wrote this story while he was still living in British Columbia and hadn’t yet leveled up to New Brunswick in Atlantic Canada. Even so, this is a great origin story of a guy finding his magic, and more importantly, his purpose. The third winner in the FantaSci contest.

Following that is Backup by the Renaissance Man. Dave Butler is annoying talented. Reads like 80 languages. Is a musician. Has a law degree. Is now a teacher. And he writes stuff. Great stuff, in fact. This is another Indrajit and Fix story, and I think these are modern versions of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, which are, not surprisingly, some of my favorite characters ever.

Side note: I almost chose the Mustachioed Loomer for Dave, but I figured that was too obvious.

Dama Quixote,  Sarah A. Hoyt, gave us One More Flight, a story  about old soldiers trying to make their way after their service time should be done. But sometimes, old soldiers have to get back in the saddle, and stand up to mighty foes.

Next is the Evil Eyebrow. On second thought, maybe I should have called Casey Moores the EEEEVIL Eyebrow. If you’ve seen him, you know what I mean. Anyway, his story A Quaint Pastime is also about an old soldier. This one is trying to find his place in the next war. With a twist. Lots of aerial action and dogfighting in this one, and this is the fourth winner of the FantaSci contest.

Next is a story by J.P. Chandler, the Legal Beagle. The third of three in a row about old soldiers, this story is about a warrior who has fought and fought and fought and he’s done. He’s got a last stand left in him, though. And it turns out there are others ready for that stand. This is the fifth of the stories that the FantaSci crew are going to have to pick from.

Chandler’s story hit me in *all* the feels. I cried when I read it the first time, the second time, the third… well, you get the idea.

Next comes the Arrogant Editor. Let’s just say today’s launch success didn’t make me any less arrogant. My story in this, Magnum Opus, let me delve into Katarina, one of my favorite characters in the Edward series. What happens when evil has to be the good guy?

Then is the Ancient Master. Glen Cook‘s not really ancient but he sure he is a master. I’ve loved his stuff for years and was very happy to have a Black Company story here. Cranky Bitch has all the cynicism and War weariness you’ve come to expect from that series.

And finally, the Accountant of DOOOMMMM. Larry Correia‘s The Dregs is fantastic, full of action, and with a cool twist at the end.

What a great lineup that was, and they gave me fun stories. I was honored to get to edit all this.

I’m also proud at being a part of the FantaSci short story contest. They are going to have a heck of a time selecting from the stories from the winners.

Thanks to all involved in what turned out to be an awesome project.

Rob’s Update: Unleashing Valor

Week 12 of 2021

Greetings all

Today’s update is a little late. For a reason.

Release day!

Songs of Valor got released at midnight Eastern on Amazon. This is a great anthology of fantasy stories including a bunch of amazing authors. David Weber, Larry Correia, and Glen Cook are the biggest headliners, but there are so many more.

I’ve been running a little encapsulation of each story on Facebook and MeWe this week. Don’t worry, if you’re not on Facebook or MeWe, I’ll gather them together this weekend for a blog post.

I had a pretty good week of writing with The Ravening of Sorrows. The word count won’t entirely show it because I finally figured out the exact soul of the story. This is common for me. I get to this point and I finally grok the story arc that really fits. In this case, that meant going from the start in a pass that tweaks a few things to make the breadcrumbs lead where I want them. Nevertheless, I’m over 70k with a bunch waiting to insert. Getting there.

Making progress on a number of other projects, too, so another all-around productive week.

What I’m Listening To

Saucy Sailor by Steeleye Span. They have such an amazing version. It’s one of those I have to listen to a few times whenever it pops up on my media player. Also, if you haven’t listened to Steeleye Span, you should check them out. They’re an interesting melding of rock, English folk, and traditional stuff.

Quote of the Week

Today is the birthday of Vinegar Joe Stillwell, US general. Now, he didn’t invent this phrase. It’s attributed actually to British army intelligence early in the war. However, Stillwell like it and used it frequently. Also, it’s the perfect phrase for those valorous ones who face whatever bastards try to hold them back.

“Illegitimi non carborundum”
Joe Stillwell

PS: It really doesn’t mean “Don’t let the bastards down.” It doesn’t actually really translate to anything. So go with what you know it really means.

New Mythology Works in Progress

New Mythology Press Anthology Announcement

New Mythology is pleased to offer another open call for four spots in our anthology scheduled to be released in late October.

Deadline: 31 July
Words: 7k-10k
Manuscript: In .doc or .docx file format, Times New Roman, 12pt, 1.5 spaced
Send To: rob@chriskennedypublishing.com

Prompt: Write a fantasy story involving a beast or monster. While the story can include elements of horror, it should not be a horror story; it should be a fantasy and lean toward the heroic. Feel free to make the beast or monster your protagonist, but if not, the creature must be a central figure, (like Grendel in Beowulf).

As mentioned, we will choose the top four stories out of those submitted to add to the anthology. This is especially aimed at newer authors, though authors of any experience can enter.

  • Just Released: 1 March: The Watchers at War (Book 3 of the Watchers of Moniah Series by Barbara V. Evers)
  • Today: Songs of Valor (Book 2 of the Libri Valoris anthologies with Larry Correia, David Weber, Glen Cook, Dave Butler, and Sarah Hoyt). You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08Z7Z3KT1
  • 12 April: Accepted (Book 2 of the Balance of Kerr series by Kevin Steverson.
  • 21 May: Across the Endless Ocean (Book 1 of the Endless Ocean series by G. Scott Huggins)

Rob’s Works in Progress

  • The Ravening of Wolves (71,233)
  • Rick Blaine (8,845)
  • CB (8,418)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

Upcoming Events

New Releases

Songs of Valor. I might have mentioned it. Get it here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08Z7Z3KT1.

Quincy Allen double-dips this week, as he has a story in Songs of Valor *and* he has a new release with Marc Alan Edelheit called Forging Destiny. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08YY1LNBJ.

And finally, Tim C. Taylor has the second of the Chimera Company novels out this week. You can find Operation Redeal here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08YJKVGWY.

Today’s Weight: 338.8

Updated Word Count: 11,962

Shijuren Wiki: 725 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren

Nick Patara, PI

  • Silent Knight (Nick Patara, PI, Book 1)
  • Under a Midnight Clear (Nick Patara, PI, Book 2) (Forthcoming)
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

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

Rob’s Update: New Mythology Press

Week 2 of 2021

Greetings all

Well, this has been a wonderful and eventful week for me. On Wednesday, Chris Kennedy gave me the opportunity to become lead dog on New Mythology Press, his fantasy imprint. This means I’ll be taking submissions and guiding the accepted books through the process of publication.

This is incredibly exciting and I look forward to bringing you all a bunch of great stuff to read.

I’ll be adjusting some things related to my weekly email as part of this. I’m going to start sending them out Thursday to better flow with Tuesday releases for New Mythology Press. I’ve added a New Mythology Works in Progress section where I’ll discuss what’s going on there. There will be more changes as I adapt to this amazing new opportunity.

Thanks again to Chris.

By the way, if you’re interested in submitting a novel to New Mythology Press here are the basics:

New Mythology Press Novel Submission Guidelines

  • Novels of 80 to 120k words
  • In .doc or .docx file format
  • Times New Roman, 12pt
  • 1.5 spaced
  • Can be fantasy of any type, epic, urban, high, whatever. Needs to have heroes doing heroic things, just like you’ve come to expect from all the books from CKP.

However, this does not mean I’ll stop writing. Not at all. I actually had a great week of progress on The Ravening of Wolves, getting about 6k done despite not writing at all yesterday because it was my sweetie’s birthday. It’s good to get back into the groove.

With that, I better get working. I’ve already got submissions to read. Exciting stuff!

What I’m Listening To

Rush, all of it. Neil died a year ago Thursday and I’m not over it.

Quote of the Week

I’ve probably used this quote before, but it’s too powerful not to use again. It comes from the last song on the last album by Rush. Neil nurtured one hell of a garden.

“The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect
So hard to earn, so easily burned
In the fullness of time
A garden to nurture and protect”

– Neil Peart (1952 – 2020), “The Garden” from Clockwork Angels

New Mythology Works in Progress

Songs of Valor is basically complete. It goes to the editor this weekend. I’m really proud of how this turned out and you’ll want to get it when it comes out in March. Here’s the list of fantastic stories and ridiculously good author list, along with a note if they’re part of an existing series:

  • The Dragon and the Drunkard by David Weber
  • Smoke and Shadow by Jon Osborne (Milesian Accords series)
  • On a Wing and a Train by Benjamin Tyler Smith (Necrolopolis series)
  • The One You’d Least Expect by Chris Kennedy
  • Oathbreaker by Melissa Olthoff
  • Changes by Kevin Steverson (Balance of Kerr series)
  • What the Eye Sees by Quincy J. Allen (Rellen series)
  • Songbird by Jamie Ibson
  • One More Flight by Sarah Hoyt
  • A Quaint Pastime by Casey Moores
  • Backup by D.J. Butler (Indrajit and Fix series)
  • The Hill to Die On by J.P. Chandler
  • Magnum Opus by Rob Howell (Shijuren series)
  • Cranky Bitch by Glen Cook (Black Company series)
  • The Dregs by Larry Correia

I’m still amazed by this collection of talent. Truly an honor to be a part of it.

Rob’s Works in Progress

  • The Ravening of Wolves (35,384)
  • Rick Blaine (8,845)
  • CB (8,418)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Working on other things this week

Upcoming Events

New Releases

This week’s spotlight is on Christopher Woods and William Joseph Roberts, who put out their own take on the Salvage Title universe with Smuggler’s Run. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08S71RJP5.

Today’s Weight: 345.8

Updated Word Count: 2,396

Shijuren Wiki: 725 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren

Nick Patara, PI

  • Silent Knight (Nick Patara, PI, Book 1)
  • Under a Midnight Clear (Nick Patara, PI, Book 2) (Forthcoming)
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories

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