Tag Archives: Nathan Balyeat

Rob’s Ramblings: 20Books AAR

I’m back from 20Books and I’ll start with saying it was an amazing trip.

I went with two overall goals: Gain the tools to level up personally and to level up New Mythology Press. Mission achieved.

Sunday night is when things sort of start. I say “sort of” because panels start on Tuesday, but networking and reconnecting is a huge part of the event.

I got a chance to hang out with some of the North Texas Troublemakers on Sunday. This is a collection of some skilled writers and artists from around Wichita Falls. They’re good folk and I don’t get a chance to really hang out with them much, but several of them were at the con.

One was Dorothy Grant, who I’ve crossed paths with before, but mostly knew online. This was a chance to get to know each other in real life. This last bit, by the way, is a huge theme of 20Books for me.

Another was C.V. Walter, an successful romance writer, especially her Alien Brides series. I’m trying to add a bit more of those tropes to my writing to broaden my skill set, and we had a good conversation about that. I put some romance in The Door Into Winter, and she agreed to take a look at what I did and see how I can punch that up a notch.

Also, expect to see her in an upcoming anthology as she’s got some great ideas and plans for valorous deeds. That’ll be 2024.

Monday started with the big vendor show. A bunch of people who offer a variety of services to help authors write. I found some intriguing stuff I’ll be digging through in the upcoming weeks.

I did have a chance to meet Jake of J Caleb Designs. He’s the artist for so many of New Mythology’s Books. He’s talented, creative, and a true professional. I can’t recommend him enough.

The rest of Monday was more networking and hanging out with a bunch of people. I had a great conversation with a friend who I’ve not really hung out with much in real life.

A crew of CKP folk ended up at Giordano’s, a true deep dish pizza, and we had a bunch of chats about this and that pertaining to a various CKP plans.

Tuesday started with a D&D game hosted by Luke Gygax. If you’re familiar with D&D, you might recognize the name. Yes, he’s related. In fact, he’s one of Gary’s kids.

I actually gamed with him twice, having a session both Tuesday and Thursday mornings. We had a blast, but from a professional standpoint, it was a great chance to connect with a few individuals more than we might have otherwise.

I’m certainly going to keep track of Gaxxworx, Luke’s company, and the setting they’re creating for D&D.

After that I hit Dave Butler’s editing for muscular prose. This was a very useful session as I not only learned new things, it also codified a number of things I’d sort of known but hadn’t ever lined out explicitly.

I’ve already started to put some of those things into use. Definitely a chance for me to level up.

Side note on Dave. We’ve been friends for a bit, but at most cons we don’t have time to actually sit and chat. We had a couple of chances, especially dinner on Thursday. He’s a great dude, and I look forward to hanging out again.

Dave was also hanging out with David West and Brad Torgerson. These are two writers I’ve interacted with on the internet, but hadn’t met in real life. Unfortunately, Brad came down with an illness, so we didn’t see much of him later in the week.

I especially wanted to meet with West, as he’s been pushing Weird West stories. As I desire my Libri Valoris anthologies to be broadly ecumenical in fantasy subgenres, I wanted to make sure he knew that Weird West fantasies are absolutely acceptable for these.

Wednesday was more panels, in particular Larry Correia’s one on action scenes. If you’ve read Larry’s stuff you know he makes these pop, and I got a few tips and tricks I’m looking forward to adding to my stuff.

Speaking of Larry, I also got to hang out with him more than I’ve done before. We had a fun lunch at the French restaurant close to the convention including Kacey Ezell, Nathan Balyeat, Mike Massa, and Larry’s wife, Brigit. Cheese was the biggest topic of conversation.

Also, it was great to actually get a chance to chat with Massa, another talented writer I’ve admired for a while but barely known in real life.

The other really useful session on Wednesday was Bryan Cohen’s Less Time, More Readers panel. This had a number of specific ideas on being productive.

The basic theme here was consistent mediocrity. Doing a little thing day after day after day will add up more than big days. We already kind of know this because we try to write some every day, but he pushed for us to do this on everything we do.

He also said it’s best to cut down on the things we try to do, but again, stick with them day after day, week after week. This might seem counter-intuitive but it struck a chord with me because it’s exactly what I talk about to people thinking about joining the SCA.

Many new to the SCA are intimidated by all the stuff. The great outfits, the bling, good shoes, chairs, wooden chests, and at camping events, tents and such-like things. They feel like they can’t do this because they can’t get all this stuff.

The thing is, no one should have all this stuff at the start. I started with tennis shoes, sweats, and plain T-tunic. This is still sufficient to start with. I had bag chairs, not wooden ones. Everything we used was modern.

But over the 25 years I’ve accrued this and that periodically. I made a chest, bought a chair, traded for garb, etc. I have a pretty good kit, but only after doing a bit here, a bit there, over all this time.

I need to do that with my work. Many, including me, often look at established writers and struggle to do all the things they do without remembering they didn’t do all those things at the start, but did some then added on as they got better.

I need to focus on certain things and get consistent with them. Then, when they’re programmed in, add something else. You can expect to see a few changes along those lines in the upcoming months. Some will be behind the scenes, but it will all be more calculated, more planned to do less, but more consistently.

Those were the three panels I got the most out of, though there may be more. I’ll be watching a few of the others that conflicted with other plans. This con, more than most, had productive things opposite other productive things.

Thursday, after the gaming with Luke Gygax, was mostly networking. In particular, I had a chance to really hang out with James Artimus Owens, a writer and artist who’s also one of the main people at Superstars. His class on cover art at Superstars was one of the best things I did there and it was good to actually get to know him a bit.

This conversation actually gave me a chance to consider the relative merits of both Superstars and 20Books. They’re both great for up-and-coming writers, but they have slightly different aims. 20Books seemed to have a much more granular, detailed approach to the business side of things, especially for indie writers who already have a few things out there. Superstars is better for newer writers, and also for those who lean toward tradpub.

Short version: both are great, but one can be better than the other depending upon your goals and circumstances. As both are expensive to attend, I suggest studying each to find the best fit for you. Most of us can’t afford to attend both in a given year.

It seemed like 20Books had more aimed at my specific needs, but again, this is something you need to determine yourself.

Anyway, the event ended on Friday with the RAVE event.  This was an open-to-the-public sales event. There weren’t a ton of shoppers not part of the con and we didn’t have many sales. However, this was a chance for people to show off what they had.

I had a great chat with a number of writers, including some I expect you’ll see coming out in New Mythology down the road.

Overall, it was a fantastic convention and I achieved my goals. I’ve got more tools in my toolbox, more connections in the industry, and more ideas to push my stuff to the next level.

I’ll definitely go back.

 

Rob’s Update: A Huge Week

Week 14 of 2022

Greetings all

So much to talk about this week!

First, I had a great time at FantaSci. Here’s the full FantaSci AAR: robhowell.org/blog/?p=2653.

Keen Edge of Valor
Keen Edge of Valor

While there, we released Keen Edge of Valor. Thanks to all who supported the release and participated in its creation. It’s a great anthology and I’m proud of what we’ve done. Get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09W91TP24/.

I also got to make two announcements. First, the finalists for the FantaSci Short Story contest were C.M. DeMott, Nathan Balyeat, Jonathan Miller, and Chris Hepler. Chris Hepler, with his story “The Torturer of Camelot,” was this year’s winner. Here’s an interview with our winner: robhowell.org/blog/?p=2645.

Secondly, I announced the theme for next year’s Short Story Contest. 2023 will be Bonds of Valor, and you story must include deeds of valor centered around bonds between characters. This could be a romantic relationship, a buddy adventure, oaths to kings, or whatever you can come up with. Specifics on the submission guidelines are below in the New Mythology section.

Deadly Fortune
Deadly Fortune

And now we’re five days away from our next release, Deadly Fortune, by Aaron Rosenberg. This is the next Eldros Legacy novel. It’s a swashbuckling take of pirates, murder, and intrigue and a lot of fun.

Then there was Tuesday night, where I did a fun interview with Cursed Dragon Ship on Twitch.tv. You can find it here: twitch.tv/curseddragonship. Many thanks to Kelly Colby for hosting me. I had a great time.

Now for the fun vaguebook part. My sweetie went on a trip last night and there might be some cool fun changes to our life coming out of it.

What a week.

What I’m Listening To

The Eagle Against the Sun, a War in the Pacific documentary. I’m in a WW2 mood today for some reason, and it’s been exactly what I wanted.

Quote of the Week

A brilliant quote from Gordie Howe today.

“All hockey players are bilingual. They know English and profanity.”
– Gordie Howe

Dudes In Hyperspace

Follow the Dudes In Hyperspace here:
bleav.com/shows/the-dudes-in-hyperspace-podcast/

The latest show includes a review of Batman and some great podmail questions.

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+.

Deadly Fortune by Aaron Rosenberg is coming next Tuesday! It’s a fun swashbuckling tale of pirates, murder, and intrigue.

Currently available:

New Mythology Works in Progress

2023 FantaSci Short Story Contest open call.

The theme is Bonds of Valor, and you story must include deeds of valor centered around bonds between characters. This could be a romantic relationship, a buddy adventure, oaths to kings, or whatever you can come up with.

Deadline: November 30th, 2022
Word Count: 7-10,000 words
Specifics: Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1.5 line spaced.

I’m currently working on The Door Into Winter, my next novel.

Rob’s Works in Progress
  • Rick Blaine (8,845)
  • CB (8,418)
Upcoming Events
New Releases

So much going on in CKP at FantaSci. First, let’s go with Titans Rising, which is a book on the business of writing genre fiction in the 21st century. It includes stuff by Chris Kennedy, Kevin J. Anderson, Toni Weisskopf, and a bunch of other big names. You can get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09W8SV9QY.

Then we have Redacted Weapon, a new Four Horsemen Universe novel by Kevin Ikenson and Kevin Steverberry… errr… I mean, Kevin Ikenberry and Kevin Steverson. By the Kevins! That’s it, that’s what we’ll go with. Anyway, it’s another story about the Peacemakers and you can get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09W8LYXNJ.

And finally, there’s Keen Edge of Valor, the third anthology in the Libri Valoris, the Books of Valor. You can get it here: amazon.com/dp/B09W91TP24/.

Tracked Items

Today’s Weight: 326.3

Updated Word Count: 129,772

Eldros Legacy Archives: 813 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

Founder in the Eldros Legacy series

Rob’s Ramblings: FantaSci 2022 AAR

Greetings all

I’m home after a great time at FantaSci. This con is in the Research Triangle in North Carolina, so it’s a bit of a hike from Kansas City, but it’s well worth it. To put it this way, I have already bought my pass for 2023.

I got to the hotel on Thursday afternoon, and began the hanging out almost immediately. The best part of cons isn’t really the con, though all of it is necessary for my business, it’s the people.

The first afternoon at cons is therefore a great time of re-connecting. Then, Thursday evening we went to Trali Irish Pub for a group dinner. Then, there was drinking at the bar.

I got to bed far too late.

Friday, I had some errands to run for the CKP Party on Saturday night, then I was back for three straight panels.

Keen Edge of Valor
Keen Edge of Valor

First, we had the release panel for Keen Edge of Valor. In this, we get as many authors who are in the anthology to come to the panel and talk about their story. It’s fun to share all the cool stuff in an anthology, and we had a great time because it’s a great anthology.

Get it here, by the way: amazon.com/dp/B09W91TP24/

Then we had a panel on Killing People and Breaking Stuff, including Mark Wandrey as moderator, Joshua Palmatier, Monalisa Foster, and William Joseph Roberts. This went over how much combat and violence to put in a story. The basic answer is that each of us have to develop a style that works with whatever genre we’re writing in.

Last on Friday night was perhaps my favorite panel on the week, talking about making books into movies. Carolyn Kay did a great job as moderator. Chaz Kemp, Cathy DeMott, and I went over a wide variety of topics and it was a hoot.

Then on Saturday we started with the Chris Kennedy Publishing Year Ahead panel. TL:DR is that there’s a bunch of great stuff coming. For the long version, go to chriskennedypublishing.com.

I had a bit of a break then before going into a panel on podcasting. There weren’t many people in the hall, but that became a good thing as Ian J. Malone sort of turned it into a roundtable. It was a blast, especially because Nicole Givens Kurtz is a hoot, and very, very sharp. Plus there was Kevin Steverson. Really good panel.

Immediately after, we had a great panel on overcoming Writer’s Block with Mark Stallings and Mark Jack Stoumbos. There are tools we can use, but one thing I want to emphasize is that we need to differentiate between those times when writer’s block has to do with the story and times when it has to do with fatigue, frustration, depression, and other things with the writer.

Then I had another panel on alternate history. I didn’t prepare for this as well as I should as moderator because I didn’t find out about it until Saturday afternoon. This is all on me because it was in the program, I just didn’t notice it.

Anyway, I had a Chuck Gannon and Dave Butler on the panel, along with Jason Cordova and Chris Kennedy, so I didn’t have to do much. They just got to riffing on stuff back and forth. At least I’m smart enough to sit back and let them go.

That was my last panel of the day, but then there was a huge evening of socializing. The Four Horsemen Dining Out that FantaSci hosts is unique, as far as I know, and an amazing experience.

Side note: Nick Steverson started the Dining Out off with a bang.

Anyway, then we had the CKP party, which went well as far as I could tell. All I  know is I spent Saturday night chatting and schmoozing until late in the night.

This last part was an issue, because on Sunday morning at 9am I hosted the New Mythology Press year ahead panel. I was really impressed with how many we got to come out on Sunday morning, because I for one wouldn’t have minded sleeping in.

Deadly Fortune
Deadly Fortune

The big announcement was the cover reveal for Deadly Fortune by Aaron Rosenberg. This is a swashbuckling private eye novel with swords and intrigue and pirates.

Then there was time to hang out until Closing Ceremonies. I got to announce the winners of the FantaSci Short Story Contest.

The four finalists were C.M. DeMott, Nathan Balyeat, Chris Hepler, and Jonathan Miller. The winner was Chris Hepler, with his story “The Torturer of Camelot.” A great story that was at the top of my list from the start.

I also announced next year’s anthology theme. It will be entitled Bonds of Valor and while the primary theme of deeds of valor remains unchanged, we’re also adding a subtheme of bonds between characters.

This includes characters in a romantic relationship, buddy adventures, oaths sworn to others, and any other bond between characters.

The submission details are:
Deadline: November 30th, 2022
Word Count: 7-10,000 words
Specifics: Times New Roman, 12 point, and 1.5 line spacing.

Get writing!

As for me, I’m going to look forward to FantaSci 2023. Tickets are available here: fantasci.rocks/

See you there!