Tag Archives: Mark Wandrey

Rob’s Update: At InConjunction

Week 25 of 2021

Greetings all

I know it’s only been four days since my last update, but it’s been hectic, fun, and productive.

Tuesday was Lasers and Lagers at the Lie’brary on Beck. It’s a cool bar that is book-themed. My sort of place, right? I’d be in trouble if I lived within walking distance.

The event itself was basically a bunch of CKP authors chatting with people local to Panama City. We donated books to the local library and held raffles to raise money for that library as well. We had such a great time, we never had a chance to record a Dudes in Hyperspace podcast, which was part of the plan.

We also got to surprise, Sheellah, Chris’s wife, with a pre-birthday party.  I won’t say what birthday. I’m not that crazy.

It was a great night, though exhausting. Then I had two travel days to get me to Indianapolis to InConjunction. I’m set up in the dealer’s hall with Mark and Joy Wandrey to the right of me and Jon Osborne to the left of me. I’m doomed!!!

I’ll also be on panels. Here’s my schedule:

FRIDAY
  • 4:30 p.m: Meet New Mythology Press – Rob Howell, John Osborne – Panel Room
  • 6 p.m: Anthologies: Creating and Writing – Mark Wandrey, Rob Howell, T. Lee Harris – Panel Room
  • 8 p.m: Writing in a Shared Universe – Mark Wandrey, Rob Howell – Panel Room
SATURDAY
  • 2:30 p.m: Pantsing Prep – Rob Howell, Sara Marian – Panel Room

Hope to see some of you all there.

Of course, this is the end of the second week since The Ravening of Wolves came out. I’m really pleased with sales. They’ve continued far longer than most of my previous books, and I really appreciate all of you who’ve taken the time to review the book already. Those reviews have kept the momentum going. Also, thanks to all who’ve read the book. Without you, I don’t get to do this job.

Speaking of new stuff, I just sent off a story. It’s a short story in Kevin Steverson’s Salvage Title universe. Hopefully he’ll accept it. It’s one of my most whimsical pieces to date.

Next week, I’ll be organizing more and more of the anthology stuff. The deadline for submissions is 31 July and I want to be ready for the final push. In early August, I’ll put out the final list of all authors in the anthology and the winners.

There’s been some great submissions so far, so keep them coming.

With that, I think I’d better go do some writing.

What I’m Listening To

Xanadu by Rush. I’m getting one of my favorite poems *and* my favorite band, all in one swell foop!

Quote of the Week

Sixty years ago on this day, Ernest Hemingway died, so it’s a good time for one of my favorite quotes from him. This is one of several things he said I try to live up to.

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow men. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.
― Ernest Hemingway

New Mythology Works in Progress

Current open anthology calls:

I’m currently working on Heart of Ice, the sequel to Keep of Glass by Steven G. Johnson. This is a fun take on the Arthurian legends.

The big news, however, in the CKP world, is CKP International. We’re in the process of translating our books into German, French, and Japanese, with perhaps some other languages coming.

This will include New Mythology’s titles, of course, and I look forward to announcing those release dates.

Rob’s Works in Progress

  • Rick Blaine (8,845)
  • CB (8,418)
  • CSC (1,283)
  • MON (829)

Upcoming Events

New Releases

This week is the 5th in Tim C. Taylor’s Chimera Company series: Hold the Line. This is a great series I’m really enjoying and you can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B098BHCLM8.

Today’s Weight: 334.2

Updated Word Count: 170,511

Shijuren Wiki: 746 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: Happy Mother’s Day

Week 17 of 2021

Greetings all

Sorry for being a day late. I had a busy day yesterday. Our parents are coming down this weekend for Mother’s Day and I spent it frantically cleaning the house. One of the strangest things about the pandemic is that we host people often enough our house gets cleaned regularly. Those didn’t happen for a year, and we had some catching up to do.

Side note: I’d never have had the chance to do this job without my mom’s help. Thanks, mom!

I had a big thrill this week. I got to interview one of my favorite sportswriters and radio guys, Bob Sturm, for the Dudes in Hyperspace podcast. If you like football at all, you want to sit and chat with him for hours. Well, he gave me about an hour, which is about twice as long as I intended. We were just going over a bunch of neat stuff.

I haven’t written much this past week. Mostly, I’ve been doing those projects around the house that we’ve put off. Made a lot of progress on those.

Also, I got an opportunity to write something really cool that went straight to the top of the line. We’ll see how that goes, but then I’ll get back to my other short stories. Looks like I’ll write 4-5 short stories in the next couple of months before turning to another Shijuren novel.

Finally, my FantaSci schedule is live! Here’s where I’ll be in a couple of weeks.
Friday 12pm: Pantzing in Camellia
Friday 3pm: Book Reading in Oak
Friday 4pm: Herding Kittens in Camellia
Friday 7pm (2 hrs): Songs of Valor Anthology in the Main Room
Friday 10pm: CKP/NMP Party in the Courtyard. Come a little early if you want to help set up.
Saturday 12pm: New Mythology Press in Rose
Saturday 1pm: Radio Waves: Podcast/Live Feeds in Rose
Saturday 4pm: Mystics and Magic in the Main Room
Sunday 9am: NMP Kaffeeklatsch in Camellia

With that, I had better go write a bit.

What I’m Listening To

Wolf Totem by the Hu. Mongolian Folk Metal is fantastic stuff.

Quote of the Week

Today’s quote is from Gene Wolfe, one of the great SF/F writers ever. He was born on this day in 1931.

“You never learn how to write a novel. You just learn how to write the novel that you’re writing.”
― Gene Wolfe

New Mythology Works in Progress

Open call for the next New Mythology Anthology. We’ll take the top four submissions.

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.

Rob’s Works in Progress

  • CWTAE (1,701)
  • OPP (1,214)
  • Rick Blaine (8,845)
  • CB (8,418)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

Upcoming Events

New Releases

The big new release is, of course, Eye of the Storm, by Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey. This is the latest in the main line of the 4HU. So much going on. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B093NXYC7C.

Today’s Weight: 333.6

Updated Word Count: 115,848

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: No Power In The ‘Verse

Week 5 of 2021

Greetings all

This week I’ve been focused on getting new stories out. I have a new writer that I can’t wait to publish. I’ll finish my edits tomorrow.

There are several other stories coming in soon, plus a cool new project that we’re making progress on.

However, the biggest news is the first New Mythology Release since I became publisher, the second in Barbara V. Evers’ Watchers of Moniah trilogy: The Watchers in Exile.

I made some progress on The Ravening of Wolves, but not as much as I’d hoped. Nevertheless, I got over 40k this week, so it’s getting there too.

What I’m Listening To

You’ll know the show I’m watching when you read the quote.

Quote of the Week

“I don’t believe there’s a power in the ‘verse can stop Kaylee from being cheerful.”

Capt. Malcolm Reynolds
Firefly

New Mythology Works in Progress

With the second of Barbara V. Evers’ Watchers of Moniah trilogy, The Watchers in Exile coming out on Monday, those of you with sharp eyes might suspect a third book is on the way. And it is! March 1st, the trilogy will be complete and I’m looking forward to seeing the bad guys get what’s coming to them.

The next release is Songs of Valor, the second of the Libri Valoris anthologies. You’re going to love it.

Following that is the next in Kevin Steverson’s Balance of Kerr series, called Accepted, follows up his great novel Burnt. Then the queue is starting to stack up. Exciting stuff.

Rob’s Works in Progress

  • The Ravening of Wolves (41,984)
  • Rick Blaine (8,845)
  • BT (3,887)
  • CB (8,418)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

Upcoming Events

New Releases

This week’s spotlight is on Barbara V. Evers’ The Watchers in Exile. I might have mentioned that came out on Monday.

Also out is Mark Wandrey’s Sword of Minerva, next story in the Four Horseman Universe. The Guild Wars is getting good.

Finally, the factory boss’s story, A Gulf in the Past, came out in audio form this past week. This is the second book in Chris Kennedy’s Progenitor’s War series.

Today’s Weight: 345.8

Updated Word Count: 5,106

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: NCMM Out On 24 November

Week 43 of 2020

Greetings all

My editor has returned None Call Me Mother so we’re in the final stretch! Hence I can announce that I’ll be releasing it on the 24th of November! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

I’m incredibly excited to be at this point. It has been a heck of a road, but not only did a learn a ton, I made a story that makes me weep at the end, which is always a great sign.

I also made nice progress on the anthology this week. Several stories are done, edited, and ready to go. It’s going to be great.

I’ve been working on my story for it, and it’ll probably be done next week. I really like where it’s going, with a main character I never expected would ever be a main character.

Now to get None Call Me Mother to the advance readers. By the way, if you’re interested in being an advance reader, let me know. You get to read my books ahead of time after all.

Hope you all have as a great a day as I am having.

What I’m Listening To

“Nocturne” by Rush. This is actually the perfect song for the moment.

Quote of the Week

It’s perfect because it’s about dreams and what they mean to us. This particular quote describes writing a novel perfectly.

“Set off on a night-sea journey
Without memory or desire
Drifting through lost latitudes
With no compass and no chart”
– “Nocturne,” by Rush

News and Works in Progress

  • The Ravening of Wolves (32,068)
  • KAT (3,743)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AOOE (1,030)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • A ton of new wiki additions. It’s making huge progress.

New Releases

This week’s spotlight is on the 4HU, with Mark Wandrey and Marisa Wolf giving us Night Song. I will not make any puns about Marisa’s last name. None at all. Despite the fact, this one stars some Zuul. You know, the aliens who are very Wolf-like? No, I’ll not make any real puns about her last name. Not because I’m generous. No, it’s the simple truth that my last name is, in this context, not without risk.

Anyway, you can find Night Song here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08LKFKGK4/

Today’s Weight: 356.4

Updated Word Count: 240,043

Shijuren Wiki: 138 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

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

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

Rob’s Update: Friends and Family

Week 35 of 2020

Greetings all

A week of things projects as much as writing. Only 3 real writing days, but still productive. Still getting over 2k per day done on The Ravening of Sorrows.

We finished a major project here that’s been something we’ve been stepping around for months, but it’s now to the finish work stage. We’re really pleased to have that done.

We spent a lot of the week dealing with stuff. Neither of us have gotten great sleep for a while because one of us has had to sleep with the cat that was wearing a cone of shame. The cone of shame is off as of today and everything seems back to normal.

I’ll be editing a short story next week and adding to The Ravening of Sorrows a bit. Then I’ll be switching to editing None Call Me Mother. Getting close on that.

And with that, I’m going to go watch a movie with the sweetie.

What I’m Listening To

Good friends on a Zoom meeting call. It’s good to see friends, even if only virtually.

Quote of the Week

Today is Mary Shelley’s birthday and here’s a quote from one of the founders of science fiction and fantasy. This is a perfect quote for writing SF/F.

“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos.”
– Mary Shelley.

News and Works in Progress

  • The Ravening of Wolves (29,837)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AOOE (1,030)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

  • Didn’t have a chance to work on anything else this week.

Upcoming Events

New Releases

This week we have a new release in the Fallen World, The Island of Dr. Laroue by Christopher Woods and Chris Kennedy. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08GQ6R9VR/.

Also, we have a couple of entries on Bookbub this week. A Time to Die by Mark Wandrey is today. Tomorrow will be Jon Osborne’s A Reluctant Druid. Both are 0.99 cents. The Bookbub links are awful, so click on the titles to go to those specials.

Today’s Weight: 364.4

Updated Word Count: 234,350

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

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

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

Rob’s Update: Mountains Rise and Fall

Week 32 of 2020

Greetings all

Somedays I never thought I’d be able to say this, but I just sent a full draft of None Call Me Mother to my editor.

It’s raw, and I will be adjusting my process so I never take this long to write a series again, but I cried at the end. That’s always a sign I like the story.

It was actually a fantastic week here, not just because I wrapped up a draft. I participated in my first DragonCon panel on Wednesday, and you’ll be able to see it as part of the virtual DragonCon package. I don’t know all the details about virtual DragonCon right now, but I’ll be posting that when I do.

I have already started to shift the notes from The Feeding of Sorrows around to begin The Ravening of Wolves, its sequel. Expect to see that appearing in the word count within the next couple of weeks.

Next week I will be cleaning up a short story, starting another short story, and start reading for the sequel anthology we’re putting out for FantaSci. We already have three submissions for the contest and I can’t wait to dig into those.

Tomorrow, I’ll be presenting a section of Brief Is My Flame in an online reading of a bunch of local authors. I thought about a chunk of None Call Me Mother, but all the snippets I can think will be fun to read are too long for my 15 minutes.

Here’s the link for the KC Writer’s Fair. You’ll need to register to watch the Zoom meeting, so plan accordingly. Thanks to William Mitchell for all his hard work getting this going.

There’s a bunch of work yet to do on None Call Me Mother, of course. However, this is one of the best points in the process.

What I’m Listening To

Survival by Yes. What an apt song for the moment.

Quote of the Week

None Call Me Mother is wrapped around a riddle written in the Old English style. I’ll post it here and see if anyone figures it out. I wrote it to be challenging and obscure, which it is, but you can figure it out, even if every riddle is frustrating.

I am a wondrous thing                    though I am truly nothing
Brief is my flame but                       mountains rise and fall
Ere my warmth fades                      and winter fills its place
Gold is given for me                         but such gifts buy me not
I have many children                       but none call me mother
Swans carry my grace                     but grow and fade without me
Some turn to the sun                       but never tame me in the light
Dogs may soar for me                      but daunted, they return sharply
So ere you your successor name     say what I am called

– The Riddle of the Great Mothers

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (148,130)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AOOE (1,030)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

Recent Blog Posts and Wiki Additions

Upcoming Events

  • 8 August, Olathe Writers Zoom Event (TOMORROW!!!)
  • 3-7 September, DragonCon, Atlanta, GA
    https://www.dragoncon.org/
    Digital stuff coming (Less sadness)

New Releases

This week we see the first release from Mark Stallings. It’s called The Elements, and it is the first of the Silver Coin saga. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08C29BR62?.

Also, there’s a new main thread Four Horsemen novel out! You can find Gale Force here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08F9TX11V. Thanks to Mark Wandrey and Chris Kennedy for creating this huge, crazy sandbox for all of us.

Today’s Weight: 369.6 (I held the same weight as last week, which I’m actually quite pleased about since I was too focused on finishing the draft to actually cook)

Updated Word Count: 231,733

Shijuren Wiki: 67 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
Shijuren
Four Horsemen Universe
The Phases of Mars
Short Stories
  • “A Gift of Crimson” in Hand of Gold and Other Stories (Pussy Katnip)
  • “The Chaos of Well-Seeming Forms” in We Dare
  • “Nor War’s Quick Fire” in We Dare: Semper Paratus (Forthcoming, 2020)

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: Opening Day

Week 30 of 2020

Greetings all

Finally! Today is the full opening day for baseball. They’ve had a couple marquee games already, like they do these days, but the first full day of baseball, which is usually packed from noon to after midnight is one of the great days of the year.

Interesting is, of course, the word to describe this year. Generally, a full-time hitter can expect to bat about 700 times in a given year. That might seem like a lot but it is still not enough to eliminate all the statistical biases of a small sample size. You need about 1100 to bring the plus/minus aspect down to small levels.

In 2020, a full time batter can expect about 300 times to bat. They’ve done some fun examples of what could happen in only 60 games, including batting averages not just above .400, but well above .400, even well past Nap LaJoie’s .426 in 1901.

So, yeah, expect some statistical anomalies.

And overall result anomalies, especially with 16 playoff teams. The playoffs are essentially about luck, as even the best team only slightly better than the worst playoff team in a single game. It will only take 2 coin flips out of 3 for the number 16 team to beat the number 1 team.

Fun stuff.

Made good progress on None Call Me Mother. Word count doesn’t really show much difference, but that’s because I’m cutting some of the dross as I go.

This last battle was always going to be a hairball, which is what I wanted. I’ve written several chunks  and plotted a number of others, but it’s a balance to get it all to flow smoothly. That’s most of what I’m doing right now.

The blocking is tricky, but to a certain extent, that’s what I have an editor for.

I think I’ll have the final draft next week, though, so I’m excited.

What I’m Listening To

Landslide, the Smashing Pumpkins version. Great version of a great song.

Quote of the Week

I don’t know that I’ve had a Casey Stengel quote here lately. Casey doesn’t get enough credit, I think.Yeah, he had a bunch of great ballplayers like Berra, DiMaggio, and Mantle, but even so he was a fantastic manager.

He’s certainly one of the great quote machines. This is what he said after getting fired from the Yankees, having ‘only’ won the pennant in 1960.

“They told me my services were no longer desired because they wanted to put in a youth program as an advance way of keeping the club going. I’ll never make the mistake of being seventy again.”
– Casey Stengel

News and Works in Progress

  • None Call Me Mother (134,151)
  • CB (8,418)
  • AOOE (1,030)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

Upcoming Events

Spotlight

Two from Chris Kennedy Publishing this week. One is Mark Wandrey writing in Chuck Gannon’s Caine Riordan world. It’s called Pearl and you can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Pearl-Murphys-Lawless-Book-5-ebook/dp/B08D72Q4ZZ/

Also, there’s another Fallen World novel, this one by J.P. Chandler. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/They-Call-Princess-Fallen-World-ebook/dp/B08DG84QYJ/

Today’s Weight: 372.2

Updated Word Count: 82,082

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

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

Have a great week, everyone.

Rob Howell

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

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

Interview: Benjamin Tyler Smith

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

Today’s answers come from Benjamin Tyler Smith. He’s an up-and-coming author who you guys are going to really like, if you don’t already.

His story in When Valor Must Hold is “Hanging by a Thread.” This story, set in his Necrolopolis universe, combines the weary cop trying to keep the criminals of his city to a dull roar with practical necromancy.

I will say his interview answers have much more life than many characters in his stories. Of course, they’re undead, so…

Interview: Benjamin Tyler Smith

Benjamin Tyler Smith
Benjamin Tyler Smith

Why are you here?

  • What are your influences?

Fantasy books by some of the greats (Raymond E. Feist, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, to name a few), anime in a ton of genres (Mecha, Fantasy, Cyberpunk, Magical Girl), and role playing games of various sorts (Most notably Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV and VI, Baldur’s Gate, and Betrayal at Krondor).

  • Who are some favorite other creators?

Feist, Eddings, and Jordan as mentioned above. Also Kate Elliott for her Crown of Stars series, Elizabeth Haydon for her Symphony of Ages series, and Dan Abnett for his Gaunt’s Ghost series. Over in Japan, I love Reki Kawahara (Sword Art Online), Ken Akamatsu (Love Hina), Nagaru Tanigawa (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya), and Kenichi Sonoda (Gunsmith Cats), to name a few.

More recently, my favorite creators include Kacey Ezell (“Minds of Men” is awesome, as are any of her stories of the Depik race in the Four Horsemen Universe), Christopher Woods for his Fallen World novels (Now I know I’m biased, but I burned through his first book in record time, then listened to it again), Mark Wandrey for his Four Horsemen stories, especially the ones about Jim Cartwright.

  • What made you a creator in the first place?

God, when He created me. I’ve always told stories, made things up, and eventually started putting those imaginings down on paper, first as King Arthur fanfiction, then as Star Wars fanfiction, and finally as my own stuff as the years have gone by. Even if I made no money writing, I would still do it. It wouldn’t be my career so I wouldn’t be able to do it as much, but I’d still do it in some form or another. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

  • Why did you choose to create what you create?

Things just come to me. Often when I’m listening to music or watching anime. I can’t listen to anything without getting some kind of scene or character or plot idea, and when I’m watching a good movie or show, certain moments just inspire me, either to write something similar or to take a particular emotion I feel and try to recreate it.

  • Feel free to add things you would someday like to create.

I’ve got way too many ideas, likely more than God’s given me years on this Earth. That said, I do have some plans. For this year, my focus is on building out the Fallen World universe with at least one sequel to Blue Crucible, as well as a short story or two. I also have a Jackie Warren book planned out for the Four Horsemen Universe. That’ll be a sequel on the “Return to Sender” story in the Tales from the Lyons Den anthology from late 2018. I also want to write the first book set in the Necrolopolis universe, which will feature a lot of the characters from the short story “Hanging by a Thread” that’ll be in the upcoming sword-and-sorcery anthology When Valor Must Hold. And then there are other things like a Magical Girl meets Apocalypse Now story, a zombie high school story, and other weird things like that. Like I said, too many ideas!

Describe your great Lab of Creation?

  • Where do you work? Home? Coffee Shop?

It depends on the day. Once a month I head over to a local restaurant or the nearest Chick-Fil-A with just a notebook and maybe a book on the writing craft, and I get to it. Drafting, brainstorming, studying. Mostly, though, I’m in the basement at home, with my writing laptop and snacks to keep me from venturing upstairs too often. That way lies distractions, cats needing affection, and games that desire to be played. (It’s totally them, not me, right?)

  • Do you listen to music? If so, give some examples.

I mostly listen to video game and anime music. When I’m hip-deep in the writing, it’s all instrumentals. When I’m brainstorming, outlining, or editing, vocals can be mixed in. Otherwise, the lyrics can end up distracting me when I’m actually drafting.

  • What other things exist in your productive environment?

In the basement, I have a little table where I’ve got my writing laptop, a few craft books for reference, some snacks, and a pair of cross-shaped cufflinks given to me by Larry Dixon back during World Fantasy Con of 2016 over in Columbus, Ohio.

  • What things have you tried that haven’t worked?

Two things. The first is spending too much time in the outlining and brainstorming phase. It’s not so bad with short fiction, as there are only so many factors to take into account for a 5,000 – 10,000 word piece. But, during the writing of Blue Crucible (My first contribution to Christopher Woods’ Fallen World universe) I went from the initial idea sometime in June of last year to finally sitting down to draft it in October and November. Granted, I had a couple other short stories that needed to be finished, but a lot of time was wasted spinning my wheels. So, going forward, I’m going to strive to not spend as much time in that phase of the writing.

And the second is an area I will make work, because I have to. That’s running the blog and maintaining a social media presence. It’s something I’ve tried to start a few times, and it’s always run aground as I’ve focused more and more on writing. That part’s a good thing, but I still need to be out there. Not only to promote, but also to maintain connections to fellow writers and to readers.

What are your superpowers?

  • What kinds of things do you like in your creations?

I like my characters. The plots can sometimes be hard for me to come up with, but I usually don’t have a problem with the core group of characters. Whether it’s Jackie Warren the arms dealer and her team of body guards in the Four Horesemen Universe, or it’s Lieutenant Nathan Ward and his squad of fellow mounted cops in the Fallen World Universe, or it’s Necromancer Adelvell and his band of undead misfits in my Necrolopolis universe, there’s someone for every reader to relate to, to root for, to laugh with, and to cry with.

  • What are specific techniques you do well?

I’ve been told that I do believable dialogue, with the characters having unique voices that don’t require too many tags to keep up with. I’ve also been told that my action sequences read like a movie or anime scene. Easy to visualize, easy to follow. I’m a harsh critic of my own writing, so I don’t know that I agree with that! But, I’ve heard it enough to give it credence.

  • What are some favorite successes you’ve achieved, especially things you had to struggle to overcome?

Completing this first novel all the way to the point of submission. I’ve drafted two other novels, both years ago. I never went back and edited them because they would need to be completely rewritten. I just didn’t know enough. With Blue Crucible, I feel like I’ve finally come around to understanding story structure enough to pull off a full-length work. Is it going to be perfect? No, and nothing I write ever will be. Nothing anyone writes ever will be, save for the Bible (And the writers had a little bit of help from on high for that). But, it was written to the best of my ability at the time, and I know the next book will be even better.

Another success, again involving Blue Crucible, has been to finally start writing with a lot more emotion. The protagonist, Lieutenant Nathan Ward, goes through hell during this book. It begins right on the day the bombs drop in Chris Woods’ Fallen World universe, and he witnesses as his hometown disappears off the map, along with a good bit of the country. He’s distraught, he’s upset, he’s barely holding it together. There are times where he breaks down and weeps. That’s hard for me to write, because it’s not comfortable for me to experience or see. But, with the encouragement of a couple good writer friends I pushed through and showed a lot more raw emotion than I ever have. And I think that’s where my writing’s been the weakest all these years, so I’m excited to see how readers view some of those emotional scenes.

 What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you?

  • What are some of the challenges you have faced that frustrated you?

My own resistance to writing is a personal challenge, and I know I’m not unique in that. Writing, as much fun as it is, is still a brain-burning task. It’s not difficult in the sense that we’re solving complex math equations (Well, maybe the hard sci-fi writers are) or performing life saving surgery or commanding thousands of employees or soldiers, but we’re still utilizing a lot more of the brain than we do in a lot of everyday tasks, even everyday work tasks. And the brain doesn’t always want to do that, so when it comes time to sit down and do the gritty work of writing, distractions abound! Suddenly the most amazing thing in the world is cleaning the toilets or washing the car or cooking dinner, and the writing doesn’t get done.

The other low point came when I went to my first writer’s conference and found out just how deeply political the traditional publishing industry has become (Or always has been, and maybe I just never noticed). I left there having made a few acquaintances and having met a lot of wonderful people, but overall I was very discouraged. It seemed like the industry was stacked against certain demographics and certain political and religious persuasions, and it didn’t matter how good a story you could write if you fell into those categories. My dreams of traditional publishing weren’t dashed exactly, but they were tarnished quite a bit.

And then I went to LibertyCon in 2017, and my whole perspective changed. Baen, Chris Kennedy Publishing, Copperdog Publishing, and other big to small presses out there just wanted a good story. We could have our differing views as writers and professionals and still be colleagues and even friends. What mattered was the skill and the professionalism.

  • Do you have any creative failures which taught you something? What were those lessons?

Lots of rejections, which I know is normal. I’ve had so many short stories get rejected from contests, from magazines, from token publications that I could reroof the house with the manuscripts and the rejection slips.

That said, the only thing that helped me more than the first time I received an editor’s feedback on an accepted piece (Venessa Giunta, if you’re reading this, thank you so much!) was the first time I received a personal rejection message. When an editor or assistant editor takes time out of their busy schedule to tell you why your manuscript didn’t make the final cut, you know you’re on the right track. Because they don’t do that unless they see something in your writing, something they want to see more of. The rejection still stings, but take heart! You’re in the top 5% to 10% at that point.

  • How do you overcome normal slow points like writer’s block?

In the past, before I wanted to make this a career I would try waiting for the muse to strike. That never seemed to work, but it made for a good excuse to get distracted with other things. Good things like work and car repairs and chores, and bad things like marathon sessions of video games and other entertainment.

Now I just do the clichéd thing that always works: sit down in a room with limited distractions, and it’s either write or stare at the wall. Staring at the wall gets old after about five minutes, so I inevitably put my fingers to the keyboard and type. After about an hour, I’m typing nonstop, and before I know it, six hours have gone by and it’s time for dinner.

  • Which mistake would you try to keep other creators from making?

Don’t wait. I spent years wanting to write, and dabbling in it, but I wasn’t really, truly serious about it until 2013 or so, when I started studying the craft. I’ve been writing regularly since about 2008 (with starts and stops before that, through high school and college), but I didn’t look to improve my abilities and technique until several years into it. So, yeah, wherever you’re at, realize you can do better and strive to be better. Don’t let other people talk you out of it, and don’t talk yourself out of it. If it’s something you want to do – if it’s something you’re driven to do – then just sit down and do it. And know that there are people out there eager to read what you produce, and even more eager to see you improve with each work.

  • If you could go back and tell yourself anything about writing, what would it be?

The above statement, in all its form. I should’ve focused on writing as a career from the beginning. I always pushed it aside as a “Well, maybe by the time I’m 25. Maybe by the time I’m 30. Maybe by the time…” Nope, little Ben, sit down and get to it. This is what God’s put you on this Earth to do, and you need to do it before He smites you for your indolence.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet?Do Rigel and Pilot from Farscape count as muppets?
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Does Hatsune Miku count? She’s a little on the artificial side, but what singer isn’t these days?
  • Favorite Superhero? All Might from the anime My Hero Academia, followed by Deku, the protagonist from that series. Greatest superhero saga I’ve ever seen, hands down. Highly recommended.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Dukes of Hazzard for the 70’s. Magnum P.I. and the A-Team for the 80’s.
  • Favorite Weird Color? Stanky Bean, closely followed by Dorkwood and Bank Butt.https://www.geek.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Screenshot-51817-1211-PM-625×908.jpeg
  • Favorite Sports Team? Haven’t watched much sports since high school, so I’ll have to say, “Whichever team my friends aren’t rooting for in the Superbowl.” It’s fun being the contrarian.
  • Best Game Ever? Whichever Superbowl it was that the Patriots came from behind and completely dominated. It was like a switch was thrown at half-time, and then they just owned the field. Or maybe they owned it the whole time and decided it was time to show that.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall.
  • Best Present You’ve Ever Received? Salvation of the soul is the greatest gift God has given me. After that, it’s the love of my wife. And after that, the cover art for Blue Crucible. I never thought my first book would have such epic artwork. Chris Kennedy has my gratitude.
  • What Cartoon Character Are You? If we’re talking western animation, then J.T. Marsh from ExoSquad. If we’re talking eastern animation, then Naofumi Iwatani from Rising of the Shield Hero.
  • Your Wrestler Name? Sweet Tea Man
  • Your Signature Wrestling Move? Something akin to the Atomic Elbow Drop, like the “Deep Steep” or the “Dentist’s Drill.”
  • What Do You Secretly Plot? To unseat the publishing giants and restore the writing world to one that’s based on merit and entertainment value.
  • How Will You Conquer the World? By southernizing everyone with sweet tea, biscuits and gravy, and gumbo.
  • Best Thing From the 80s? The NES, followed by Rototech and Bubblegum Crisis.
  • Favorite Historical Period? Toss-up between Medieval Europe and Revolutionary America
  • Most Interesting Person In History? Joan of Arc. Illiterate peasant girl who rallied a failing army, liberated a city, and died a martyr’s death without ever once relinquishing her faith. I’m looking forward to meeting her on the other side.
  • Steak Temperature? Medium and above.
  • Favorite Chip Dip? The hot bacon cheese spread we make for Christmas Eve every year.  https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/hot-bacon-cheese-spread/
  • Favorite Cereal? Honey Bunches of Oats, all the way. After that, Waffle Crisp.
  • What Do You Eat For Your Last Meal? Whatever it is, I’m washing it down with sweet iced tea.
  • Beverage(s) of Choice? Sweet iced tea.
  • Do You Have Pets? I serve in the Court of the Calico Countess alongside her castellan, Earl Grey.
  • What Actor or Actress Should Portray You in Your Biopic? Vin Diesel, ‘cuz why not?
  • What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round? Least desired and most desired cause of death.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

  • Website/Blog: BenjaminTylerSmith.com
  • Twitter: @BenTylerSmith
  • Facebook: Benjamin Tyler Smith
  • Blue Crucible will be out in early April! Look for it on Chris Kennedy Publishing’s site!
  • I’m working on the sequel to Blue Crucible and the first Jackie Warren novel in the Four Horsemen Universe. So, expect lots of post-apocalyptic sci-fi and military sci-fi action for 2020!

And where can we find you?

I will be at FantaSci and LibertyCon this year. Hope we can meet up there!

Do you have a creator biography?

By day Ben earns his bread as a necro-cartographer, and by night he writes about undead, aliens, and everything in-between. His first novel is Blue Crucible, published by Chris Kennedy Publishing and set in Christopher Woods’ post-apocalyptic Fallen World universe. Other works include short stories set in CKP’s Four Horsemen military sci-fi universe, the Sha’Daa dark fantasy/horror universe by Copperdog Publishing, and pieces that wound up as finalists for Baen contests both in 2018 and 2019. He is working on the sequel to Blue Crucible, as well as a Four Horsemen novel, both of which will be finished by the end of 2020.

Married to a saint of a woman, ruled by a benevolent calico countess, he can be found at BenjaminTylerSmith.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter (@BenTylerSmith).


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

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

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

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

Have a great day.

Rob Howell

Rob’s Update: 2019 in Review

Greetings all

2019 was my best year ever. Thanks to all the readers who supported my writing throughout the year. It couldn’t have happened without you.

Things I published in 2019:

I’m incredibly pleased at the success of these stories. Four of those, including all 3 Phases of Mars anthologies and The Feeding of Sorrows, earned at least one orange tag.

An orange tag on Amazon signifies it’s a bestseller. Now I can add “Amazon Bestselling Author” to my bio. That’s pretty darn awesome.

I’m also pleased that I still love all six of these tales. I am never pleased with the quality of writing in any of my past stories, because with each new one I get better. However, the tales are all good. I know this because I still cry at the end of each one.

If I don’t get emotional reading my stuff, I can’t expect you to do so either. I still get emotional on all of them.

The biggest negative of 2019 is that I didn’t get None Call Me Mother published. I had even hoped to make progress on Edward 4, but that was always only a faint hope.

Despite that, I’m not displeased with my writing output. I’m up to 93k on None Call Me Mother, so it’s getting close. I chose to write The Feeding of Sorrows instead and it was a great decision.

I also chose to follow Bill Fawcett’s advice. He said to me at LibertyCon in 2018 that I should write more short stories. I’d be an idiot if I didn’t pay attention to him. I may yet be an idiot, but not about this.

My goal is two or three novels a year and four or more short stories. I came really close if I count the words I actually wrote in 2019. I wrote about 75k of The Feeding of Sorrows and about 20k towards its sequel. I wrote about 80k in None Call Me Mother in 2019. I also worked on a couple of special projects I’ll announce when I post my look ahead to 2020. All told, I submitted six short stories (one yet to come), and wrote about 175k of long fiction. 230k or so of fiction is not shabby.

I did this despite not taking care of myself. Following Pennsic, I spent 5-6 weeks in a funk. This was driven initially by fatigue, because I traveled a ton this past summer. Then my brain weasels got involved, chastising me for not being productive, and that spiraled down.

Fortunately, I recovered in time to complete all of the items I had promised to various editors. Had I paid attention to myself, though, I believe I would have finished None Call Me Mother. Ah, well.

I have adjustments planned for 2020. One challenge of being self-employed is that I have to play mental games with myself to keep me from doing stupid stuff, like losing those 5-6 weeks.

I went to a number of fantastic events in 2019. This was my first year as a vendor on my own at Gulf Wars. Drix and I also expanded our booth at Pennsic, and this is exciting. LibertyCon was wonderful and emotional. FantaSci went great, not great for a first time con, but great. So great I’m choosing it over Gulf Wars and Planet Comicon in 2020.

I did all these things while also getting the opportunity to serve as Their Majesty Calontir’s herald in the first half of the year. I love doing that job. Thanks to Donnghal and Catalina for giving me that opportunity. And yes, you totally got me.

My sweetie and I did a bunch of work to the house. We replaced around 1000 sq. ft. of carpet with bamboo. I love this stuff. Nice on my feet and pretty. We also started a new additional closet in the master suite, which had a ton of useless inefficient space.

The closest thing to a true negative are my tracked items, I spun my wheels a bit. I gained a little weight, though I’ve made it through most of the holidays without gaining much extra. My tracked word count, which includes only those things I actually released to the editor or on my blog, would have exceeded my goal had I managed to get None Call Me Mother to my editor, but of course will fall short in its actual number.

My wiki suffered a hacking attack in the spring. I have recovered most of the lost things, but I plan on redoing most entries. I learned a ton working on the 4HU wiki for nearly a year that I intend on incorporating. I’ll talk about that in my 2020 post.

These are my end results. I’ll work on improving them all in 2020.

Today’s Weight: 395.2

Updated Word Count: 146,912

Shijuren Wiki: 874 entries

I have so many people to thank. I’m going to take a crack at it, but will undoubtedly forget some people. But here’s what I can think of right now with a cat demanding petsies.

Mom, sweetie, and proto-incipient step-daughter come first. Living with a writer ain’t easy.

Chris Kennedy gave me a bunch of opportunities. I can’t thank him enough. James L. Young let me write in all 3 Phases of Mars, and those are good stories. Jamie Ibson let me break his soul in We Dare. Mark Wandrey kept encouraging me, especially his help in the 4HU. Kevin Ikenberry helped a ton with the Peacemaker aspects of my 4HU stuff. Frankly, let’s just thank all of the crew that Chris has gathered about him. They’re all making me better.

Kellie Hultgren did a great job editing my personal stuff and teaching me how to become a better writer. The staff at Brewbakers put up with me, and I rewarded them with tuckering it in “Silent Knight.”

Drix helped me grow my SCA sales presence. Tons of people encouraged me. One even allowed me to stay at her family’s lake house for a week of writing and solitude. I need to schedule this sort of thing once or twice a year.

Despite not getting None Call Me Mother out and spinning my wheels a bit, 2019 was definitely my best year so far. And it’s not close.

I’m growing leaps and bounds as a writer. My most recent project has helped me turn things I knew instinctively into things I understand. This is already showing up in None Call Me Mother and in “Silent Knight,” not to mention my earlier growth in 2019.

2019 was my best year.

2020 will be better. Lot’s better. We’re building something here and I will tell you all about what’s coming in a few days.

For now, though. Thanks to all of you. I really appreciate it.

Happy New Year!

Rob Howell

Currently Available Works
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Interview: Kevin Ikenberry

And here’s Kevin Ikenberry, who’s not only part of Trouble in the Wind, but he’s also Peacemaker Six in the Four Horsemen Universe. He’s a fantastic writer who was very helpful to me as I was writing The Feeding of Sorrows.

Interview: Kevin Ikenberry
Kevin Ikenberry
Kevin Ikenberry

What is your quest?

To seek the…wait a minute. I’ve seen this movie! The whole writing thing came around fairly late in life for me. I’d been told I was a good writer in high school and college, but I never really did anything serious (trying to get published) until 2009. I’ve always been drawn to science fiction – as a young Army officer two different books found their way into my hands: The Forever War by Joe Haldeman and Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein. They were two huge influences on me and I eagerly passed them on to cadets when I had the opportunity to teach ROTC about ten years ago. When I started writing, I wanted to write stories about human beings finding their place in the universe and fighting for the right to survive and explore. I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to do that with both The Protocol War series and especially the Peacemaker books in the Four Horsemen Universe. Working with Chris Kennedy, Mark Wandrey, Kacey Ezell, and Marisa Wolf has been an amazing experience and I’m honored to be a core author for the series.

What is your favorite color?

The thing that changed my writing career, in a very literal sense, was learning the key between story structure and character development. There are dozens of story structures out there, some following classic approaches like The Hero’s Journey and others following screenwriting theory (Save The Cat, My Story Can Beat Up Your Story). Those structures are great, but without very clearly defined characters and their goals, a structure can only get you so far. The difference in understanding that relationship and applying some screenwriting theory was that the very first book I ever wrote (now published as Runs In The Family) took me a year and a half to write and it was a mess. The second book I wrote (my debut novel Sleeper Protocol) took me seven weeks. Since then, I’ve been able to keep my first draft timeline to around three months from start to finish. It’s a tremendous process and something I teach often at writing conferences.

Granted, I do a lot of pre-writing (plotting, scheming, etc.) but when it’s time to sit down and write a book, I have a solid idea of where everything is going and that saves time and mental gymnastics in the middle of a manuscript when, as a writer, I think everything sucks. That light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a train and when I get the draft out of my head I can do the next part – fix it. That’s much easier with a detailed plan.

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

The biggest challenge I faced as a starting writer was staying positive. Rejections are part and parcel of this business, and there were several times that I wrote stories that were good stories in the eyes of my initial readers, contest judges, and my critique partners only to be rejected. The frustration wasn’t that I’d been rejected, there was frustration in understanding that just because one editor/magazine/market didn’t like the story didn’t mean it wouldn’t sell elsewhere. The first time that happened, I walked around in disbelief for a few hours. Now, a rejection doesn’t bother me. I package the story up, file it away in my virtual footlocker, and move on to the next project. One day, that story will find a home.

From a creative failure standpoint, I very stupidly tried to self-publish Runs In The Family in 2013 when neither the manuscript, nor myself, was ready. I had oodles of problems with creating the correct file types and I didn’t do the due diligence to really make that book what it should have been. It lasted online maybe a week before I took it down, which proved to be the best thing for it. It was picked up by a small press called Strigidae Publishing and when it released in 2016, it went gangbusters for eight months until the small press closed unexpectedly. Fortunately, Chris Kennedy’s Theogony Publishing Imprint picked up the book and re-released it in 2018 where it has continued to do well and even is now available on the Baen Book’s website. What I learned was that this publishing thing takes a team. I have a team of readers now. I have a website team. I have a marketing team. I have a creative team. I have a team that goes out for beers or whiskey. Don’t get me wrong, these are the same folks in many cases. I learned that we creators have to stick together. That’s another huge benefit of working in the Four Horsemen Universe. I have a band of brothers and sisters there that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?

Writing in someone else’s universe is pretty challenging. I had the chance to write some licensed short fiction in the G.I.JOE: A Real American Hero universe on Kindle Worlds before it shuttered this year, and that was the first time I stepped into someone else’s playground. I found it challenging and a lot of fun. Little did I know that it prepared me to take the Four Horsemen Universe “bible” and write a short story for the anthology A Fistful of Credits that led to the Peacemaker novels. Granted, I don’t always get the details right and Mark/Chris edit and chastise me endlessly, but I’ve enjoyed getting to play in the 4HU and feel like I’ve made a solid impact on the overall storyline with Jessica’s story. I recently wrote a modern-day thriller with my friend Nick Thacker in his universe, too which was a fantastic learning experience.

Aside from my books, I’m most proud of three short stories in three different anthologies because they were three unique experiences. In Extreme Planets, I wrote a story called “Maelstrom” in two days over my lunch hour because I had an old idea (guy jumping into a tornado in one of those “flying squirrel” suits) merge with the concept of exploring an exoplanet. For the anthology Dragon Writers, I took the theme to an extreme and did a re-telling of Puff The Magic Dragon where Puff was an exospheric EB-77 Dragon bomber with a callsign of Puff Zero Alpha. I didn’t think “Salvation, On Painted Wings” had a chance until the editor called. Finally, for the recent anthology Avatar Dreams, I was sitting with my friend and mentor Kevin J. Anderson when he looked at me and said he needed a story in two weeks. Could I do it? I gave him “That Others May Live” in a week and he loved it. All my crazy ideas eventually come to fruition and some push the boundaries – and I know now that I can do them quickly if I need to – that’s a huge confidence boost.

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Kermit
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy. Extra Crunchy if you please.
  • Favorite Sports Team? College: Mississippi State (Rob’s Note: Moe Cowbell!!!!) / Professional: I still pull for the Cubs and the Braves – my mom would be proud.
  • Cake or Pie? Pie
  • Lime or Lemon? Limon? Wasn’t that a thing in the 80s?
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  Guacamole
  • Wet or Dry? Wet
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Jeremy Kay
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Whiskey – I’m from Tennessee, you know.
  • Favorite Superhero? Iron Man
  • Steak Temperature? Medium Rare
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? CHiPs, Dukes of Hazzard, Emergency
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall – I miss fall in East Tennessee particularly.
  • Favorite Pet?  My dog when I was growing up. We named him Shandy. He was an American Spitz that never met a dog he didn’t know he could whoop. I miss that feisty little bastard.
  • Best Game Ever? Cards Against Humanity. I’ve never made it through a game without my stomach hurting from laughing. I’m fairly certain there’s a handbasket with my name on it.
  • Coffee or Tea? Coffee, with a touch of creamer. No sugar.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Science Fiction

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

What technique (process or practice) have you learned that has influence your own writing the most, and why?

Rob’s Answer: Hmmm. One that you mentioned above is important, and that’s the creation of a team. The analogy I use is a race car driver. At the end of the race, the winner gets photos, prizes, and all that sort of thing. However, he doesn’t get there without good mechanics, pit crew, and all the people involved in a race. My team is good, and getting better all the time.

Another important thing is keeping track of what’s working and what’s not. I often say, “There’s one true way of writing and it’s what gets words on the page.” If you are not productive at some point, change something. Anything. Your music. Your chair. Where you write at. For me, that will increase my productivity and then I have to change it up. Writers will always have slow periods, I think. Just keep plugging away.

One specific technique that I’ve added to my process is to read it out loud from a printed copy. Toni Weisskopf said in a panel once that editing from printed copies is much more effective than on the screen and she had studies to prove it, as well of course as experience at Baen. I also find that if I read something out loud the clumsy writing jumps at me because it will not roll off the tongue. It will feel clunky. Yes, that’s tedious. It took me four 12-plus hour days to do this with Brief Is My Flame, yet it was dramatically better because of it.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

My website is www.kevinikenberry.com. We’re headed for a major site overhaul soon, maybe in time for SphinxCon, but there’s information there on how to sign up for my reader’s group – The Reaction Squad – and a bunch of other stuff. There will be goodies (a free short story namely) when the new site goes live.

I’m on Facebook with an author page and my Twitter handle is @TheWriterIke. That’s about it for social media right now.

And where can we find you?

  • MileHiCon 50 (October, 2018)
  • SphinxCon (November, 2018)
  • Superstars Writing Seminar (February, 2019)
  • PensaCon (February, 2019)
  • FantaSci (March, 2019)
  • Phoenix Fan Fusion (May, 2019)
  • LibertyCon 31 (May, 2019)
  • DragonCon (August, 2019)

Do you have a creator biography?

Kevin Ikenberry is a life-long space geek and retired Army officer.  A former manager of the world-renowned U.S. Space Camp program and a space operations officer, Kevin has a broad background in space and space science education.  His 2016 debut science fiction novel Sleeper Protocol was a Finalist for the Colorado Book Award and was heralded as “an emotionally powerful debut” by Publisher’s Weekly. Kevin is the author of the military science novels Runs In The Family, Vendetta Protocol, Peacemaker, Honor The Threat, and Stand Or Fall. He is an Active Member of SFWA, International Thriller Writers, and an alumnus of the Superstars Writing Seminar.

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

You should have asked what’s next for me. Well, at DragonCon we announced that I’m writing a Tales of the Four Horsemen Universe book with my good friend and amazing author Quincy J. Allen. The novel will follow an Oogar Peacemaker named Hr’ent (from the pages of STAND OR FALL) and should be out in mid-late 2019. It’s going to be a hell of a ride!


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

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

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

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

Have a great day.

Rob Howell