Tag Archives: Mike Massa

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…

 

Rob’s Update: Auld Lang Syne

Week 52 of 2021

Greetings all

Welcome to the final week of 2021. I hope you had a great year and I wish you an even better year in 2022. For me, it was a huge year, and I will do a separate blog post next week about it, followed by one discussing my goals for 2022.

This was not my most productive week, but it was a healthy one. I spent time with the family, enjoyed Christmas, got a some cool things, gave out cool things, and ate a lot. Somehow, I managed not to eat too much that I gained a bunch of weight.

Seeds of Dominion
Seeds of Dominion

I owe all of you on my mailing list a bit of an apology. I do have Fleece Navidad ready to send out to you, but I’m trying to arrange a better way of getting it to and that has been a bit of a learning curve. Again, this was something I’d intended to do over the past weekend, but got distracted. I’ll have it sent out to you next week.

I’ll also send out the links for Silent Knight or Under a Midnight Clear, the previous two Nick Patara, PI stories. Again, these are free for those on my mailing list.

Seeds of Dominion releases on Tuesday and we’re really excited. It’s by Quincy J. Allen and over the years I’ve seen a goodly amount of what he’s written. I think this novel is the best thing of his I’ve read, and the advance reviewers agree.

I made a little progress on The Door Into Winter. I’m not entirely happy with what I wrote though. For the first time since I started writing it, i think I’ll need to do a big rewrite of a chunk. It’s normal for this to happen, and I’ve sort of been waiting for it, but I’m really pleased I got this far into the book before running into a messy chunk.

Next week, I’m looking forward to my 7th New Year’s with my sweetie. I’m also looking forward to a goodly amount of football this weekend, which we’ll surely discuss on next week’s Dudes in Hyperspace.

For now, I’m going to some more words written. Have a great New Year’s everyone.

What I’m Listening To

Michigan State v. Pitt. I hope this game is as exciting as the Tennessee – Purdue game that just finished. It ended up at 48-45 in overtime! The last half of the 4th quarter was bonkers, with huge play after huge play.

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote comes from traditional New Year’s song. It is, again, my hope that all of you have a wonderful 2022.

We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
– Robert Burns

Dudes In Hyperspace

Follow the Dudes In Hyperspace here:
https://www.sharkflight.com/dudes/

The latest show includes an interview with Todd Fahnestock, one of the Founders of the Eldros Legacy.

Cool Stuff In Eldros Legacy

Get five free stories and signed up with the Eldros Legacy mailing list! Here There Be Giants is at: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/qabsr57lq3+.

Seeds of Dominion out Tuesday!

New Mythology Works in Progress

We have no current open anthology calls but will have a new one in January.

I’m currently working on The Keen Edge of Valor, the next Libri Valoris anthology.

Rob’s Works in Progress
  • The Door Into Winter (67,243)
  • Rick Blaine (8,845)
  • CB (8,418)
Upcoming Events
New Releases

This week’s release is Assault, by Mike Massa, the next in Chuck Gannon’s Caine Riordan universe. You can get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09NZSH7X9.

And remember, Seeds of Dominion is out on Tuesday!

Tracked Items

Today’s Weight: 330.2

Updated Word Count: 383,210

Eldros Legacy Archives: 806 entries (there will be more coming next week from Seeds of Dominion)

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

Founder in the Eldros Legacy series

Rob’s Update: Terse? I Can Be Terse.

Week 6 of 2021

Greetings all

This was one of those weeks where I went to bed every day quite happy with my productivity, but it’s hard to quantify. These kind of weeks make weeks with a number of things going out the door happen, but I can’t talk about it all just yet.

Songs of Valor Cover
Songs of Valor Cover

The big news is that the Songs of Valor cover was released. I might have mentioned I’m excited about this project, and every cover makes authors know their work is about to be real.

I cut out some of The Ravening of Wolves, which is a step back, but then had three good days of writing. The cut stuff will probably show up later when I find the right place for it, but in the meantime I am really having fun with this story.

I sent my edits off to my first accepted novel. You’re really going to like getting a little Responsibility in your life. More to come soon.

I’m already starting to figure out how to be efficient with slush pile stuff. That being said, I think it’s incumbent on me to provide some sort of feedback to authors.  It’s extra work, but I know that’s what I want when I have people read my stuff. Anyway, I sent a couple of those back this week.

Side note, I’m getting faster at reading again. I used to devour books, but since I started writing it’s been a challenge to read new stuff. When it’s for work, oddly enough, I find I’m enjoying just reading again.

Anyway, I’ve got a busy weekend planned so I’m going to stop here.

What I’m Listening To

Won’t Get Fooled Again by the Who. Such a great album.

Quote of the Week

We’ve been watching Firefly again, so you get another Firefly quote.

“Terse? I can be terse. Once in flight school, I was laconic.”
Wash, Firefly, War Stories

New Mythology Works in Progress

The next release from New Mythology is the third of Barbara Evers Watchers of Moniah series, which will complete the trilogy. That comes out 1 March.

Then Songs of Valor on the 19th.

Following that, Kevin Steverson’s Accepted, sequel to Burnt, is on the way, though there’s no set date. Then there are two awesome novels in the pipeline, both of which will come out hopefully by the end of May.

Man, this is fun.

Rob’s Works in Progress

  • The Ravening of Wolves (42,577)
  • Rick Blaine (8,845)
  • CB (8,418)
  • Cynewulf (8,642)
  • Gato (2,312)

Upcoming Events

New Releases

This week, we see Mike Massa’s Shakes, first book in the Murphy’s Lawless series, is $0.99 on a Bookbub promotion. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0861F23KH.

Next, we have an anthology in the Charles Gannon’s Caine Riordan series entitled Lost Signals: A Terran Republic Anthology. You can find it here: https://smile.amazon.com/Lost-Signals-Terran-Republic-Anthology-ebook/dp/B08V4MYT4L.

Today’s Weight: 346.2

Updated Word Count: 5,869

Shijuren Wiki: 729 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

Interview: Jamie Ibson

Greetings all

I am continuing Four Horsetober with Jamie Ibson. Most of you will know him as the boss of 4HU – The Merc Guild Facebook group, but he’s also a writer and will be in Luck Is Not a Factor, the second Lyon’s Den Anthology in the Four Horsemen Universe. Take a look at another writer that Chris Kennedy has fostered.

Interview: Jamie Ibson
Jamie Ibson
Jamie Ibson

What is your quest?

I’m right at the beginning of what may eventually become a career, so getting published is my main story quest. I have a non-sci-fi story out with Supervisive, my 4HU story “The Human Inside”, and a story in next year’s Freehold anthology called “Cry Havoc” about the FMF leopard handlers.

Influences include all the usual Baeniacs, Mad Mike, The ILOH, Oh John Ringo No, David Weber, David Drake, books I found on my dad’s bookshelf like Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Joe Haldeman, Spider Robinson, Gordon R Dickson, as well as the next generation of up-and-coming authors like Kacey Ezell, Jason Cordova, Chris Smith and Mike Massa. My horizons were broadly expanded when I discovered the Four Horsemen series at LibertyCon 30. They say if you want to write you need to read. I read a lot.

What is your favorite color?

I like stories that get you out of the normal human perspective. Some of my favorite 4HU stories are the ones where the aliens are front and center. (Kacey does alien Very Very Well) so in my leopard story, I have parts where the narrative shifts from 3rd person limited to 1st person present and the cat tells the story. My current project, I’m doing full-conversion cyborgs and I try to imagine how alien it would be to have your entire interaction with the world be done through artificial/constructed means.

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

I write too much dialogue and have to find ways to show action rather than rely on conversation.

I have a fantasy short meant to be an intro to a setting I put together but it has not been accepted yet for publication. The last response I got was that there was too much slang (I didn’t think I used hardly any slang), and that it tried to squish too much world into too short a story, which was the opposite of what I’d been told elsewhere. But I recall that one of my favorite Freehold stories, The Humans Call It Duty, was rejected multiple times before it was finally published, so maybe it’s just not the right time.

That, perhaps, is the biggest lesson I’ve learned in writing, is being patient. Things take time. (Rob’s Note: So true!)

What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade? 

Somewhere along the way, a certain retired Navy SEAL declared that I was the Loremaster with regards to several of my favorite series and I’m rather honored to be called that. I think when writing in someone else’s universe it is vital to get the details and fiddly bits consistent. When I first talked to Mad Mike about what eventually became Cry Havoc, I made a point to review as much as I could on what Freehold had to say about the leopards and the handler program. Somewhere along the way I ended up writing a series bible for Mike which we’ve made available for everyone else writing in the anthology. I’ve been approached by others to give their universe a similar treatment so it can be opened up to a broader writing crowd, or I’ve been asked how I do what I do. (Notes, painstaking notes and multiple rereads!) So when I write in someone else’s universe, I try to keep a very clear idea on “What is canon” vs “Where can I expand” and ensure nothing I write conflicts with established lore. You only have to look at what happens to a series that becomes a show or movie to see whether it is accepted or rejected by fandom, based on how closely it remains true to the original. (I’m looking at you, Starship Troopers).

Lightning Round

  • Favorite Muppet? Pepe
  • Crunchy or Creamy? Crunchy
  • Favorite Sports Team? Olympic Hockey Team Canada. I pretty much ignore everything else. (Rob’s Note: This is where I get to make a gratuitous note about watching the 1980 Miracle on Ice on a 12-inch black-and-white TV)
  • Cake or Pie? Cookie dough ice cream cake
  • Lime or Lemon? Lemon
  • Favorite Chip Dip?  7 layer but no olives
  • Wet or Dry? Umm
  • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? If you’ve seen my 4HU music playlist you will have seen Leo Morrachiolli. Norwegian metal cover god. Sultans of Swing and Feel Good Inc are always good, and then there’s 230+ more tunes to pick from. Seriously, the dude’s a machine. (Rob’s Note: And he makes the most amazing facial expressions)
  • Whisky or Whiskey? Please.
  • Favorite Superhero? Canadian ones, obviously, that may not be as well known as the Avengers, like Wolverine and Deadpool, for example.
  • Steak Temperature? I’m going to be a heretic and admit I prefer burgers over steak. But if steak is what is being served, medium rare.
  • Favorite 1970s TV show? Heh, sweet, it counts. Dukes of Hazzard started in 1979 so… yep.
  • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Spring
  • Favorite Pet? I love all my cats, past and present, but Naomi is our house panther who has declared me chief of staff.
  • Best Game Ever? Fantasy: The Witcher III. Sci Fi, Horizon Zero Dawn.
  • Coffee or Tea? Razzleberry Iced Tea.
  • Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Sci fi.

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

Best place to learn to write/code wikis?

Rob’s Answer: Honestly, they’re not difficult. The most difficult thing to learn is the CSS coding to set up the main stuff. Wiki coding is mostly set up to use toolbars, and there are plenty of references.

They are like much else, though in that they become easier and quicker with practice. It takes time to think about what the most effective way to organize it, like what categories you’ll have and such.

Two things I suggest, though. First, download Editpad Lite. It’s my favorite text editor and you need a good one. If you already have one you know well, stay with it, but if not, Editpad is great. Second, as you’re editing create yourself a set of snippets. My philosophy of wiki editing is that it is better if you can standardize as much as possible. Similar things should be displayed in similar fashion as it will help the reader. Unlike writing prose, where you want to vary your word choice, consistency is useful in this context. Snippets help.

Tell me again where we can find your stuff? 

  • My forthcoming 4HU story will be in Luck Is Not A Factor.
  • “Cry Havoc” due 2019 sometime.
  • Priorities via Superversive Press in To Be Men.

And where can we find you?

I’m north of the PNW so look for me at LibertyCon once a year (until I convince America to let me immigrate).

Do you have a creator biography?

Hey, I’m Jamie. Thanks for checking out my page. I’m Canadian, born and raised in Ontario and now on the left coast. Spent some time in the CF reserves and went on a peacekeeping mission when I finished highschool. Now I’m in law enforcement and write in my spare time. I’m married to the lovely Michelle, and we have cats.


Thanks to Jamie Ibson 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