The second Wednesday at Pennsic includes Midnight Madness. Basically, this means we’re open until midnight, most merchants have some sort of specials, and a bunch of people plan fun things to do to turn it into a bit of a swirling, shopping festival.
It’s a blast.
It’s also exhausting, especially the day after. We did well last night, but neither I nor the potter who’s selling stuff out of my booth are very energetic.
This has been a week of a lot of work. I finished the editing of The Chimera Coup, the first book in a new series by Christopher G. Nuttall. The series is entitled The Heirs of Cataclysm and if you’ve read Nuttall before, you know it’ll be full of action and great challenges for the characters to overcome.
You’re gonna love it.
Of course, Tuesday is the release of Embers & Ash by Marie Whittaker. This will unlock all 5 continents of Eldros.
I wrote when I could, which wasn’t as often as I expected because we’ve had so many sales. I did get words in here and there, but seriously, it’s been a great war for sales. Still, I got about 5k written across several projects.
I have also been editing Responsibility of the Throne, the sequel to G. Scott Huggins’ excellent Responsibility of the Crown. This comes out in November. There have been a few other things that got finished I will announce in the upcoming weeks.
I also got confirmations of two new events, so check the listing of where I’ll be for where I’ll be.
It may seem surprising, but Pennsic is perhaps my most productive two weeks of the year, and this year was even better.
What I’m Listening To
Bagpipes in the distance and the occasional cannon shot to signify a battle’s beginning and ending. (No, it’s not fired at the actual battle)
Quote of the Week
Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Maldon in 991. I actually wrote about this battle in Trouble in the Wind. It’s a fairly famous battle because of the poem written about it, which describes the Viking raiding fleet, a battle of the causeway, and a decision by the leader of the English, Byrhtnoth, Ealdorman of East Anglia.
The most famous part comes after Byrhtnoth’s death, where his warriors stand up and declare they’ll fulfill their oath and die at his side.
In the SCA, one of my favorite songs concerns this battle. It’s written by Rosalind Jehanne and here’s perhaps my favorite passage from it. Note how well she follows the Anglo-Saxon alliterative poetic style and still uses the rhyme and arrangement of modern songs. Combining two such disparate genres is incredibly difficult.
“Death is our doom But let us die with honor
All that lives after Is what the bards do say
Fight to be worthy Of fame in the future
Let them remember The deeds we do today”
– Rosalind Jehanne, Battle of Maldon
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.
It must also be a fantasy story. Any type is welcome, urban, epic, high, western, gothic, whatever, it just have to have magic. Finally, it cannot have been published anywhere else before.
I’m currently working on The PainBearer by Kendra Merritt, book 7 in the Eldros Legacy.
I’m quite pleased with the story. I’m honored to have been given the opportunity to contribute. I’m absolutely stoked I get to be in a book with David Weber, Kevin J. Anderson, and S.M. Stirling, among others.
I made some progress on None Call Me Mother. Much of it wasn’t in words written, but rather cleaning up. I’m at that stage where I need to go back through it all to firm up the earlier chapters, fill in some connections, and make sure I’m ready for the final chapters.
What I mostly did was write another short story. I’ll tell you all about it when it’s about to go out the door. I also made progress on another project. All in all, a good week, even if it doesn’t show up in the raw numbers.
I also spent a goodly amount of time cleaning house. This is Kris Kinder Weekend, which means I have a big sales event then host everyone after the event.
It’s one of my favorite weekends of the year, but I’ll be exhausted on Sunday. It’s a fair trade.
What I’m Listening To
La Villa Strangiato by Rush. Such a great song.
Quote of the Week
This week’s quote is the inspiration for my story’s title. Thanks to Rosalind Jehanne for granting me permission to use it.
Here must we hold So hearken to my counsel
Felled is our lord Slain by foemen on the field
Now we must honor The oaths we made in mead-hall
Now we must shoulder The burden of his shield
– Rosalind Jehanne
I’m concluding this week of featuring interviews from authors in the anthology with Philip S. Bolger. This is a dude that knows his history and, of course, that’s a trait I like in anyone. One of these days he and I are going to end up with beverages talking late into the night about our particular historical eras of interest.
For now, though, we’ll just have to be satisfied with this interview.
Interview: Philip S. Bolger
What is your quest?
I seek to inject my brand of intellect, cynicism, and action into what I write—I like the kind of kinetic, snappy writing of Neal Stephenson, the savvy wit of Jim Butcher, the noir stylings of Don Winslow—I try to reflect a little bit of each in what I write. In my work for Trouble in the Wind, I actually did not, as my other inspirations are historical! I have a degree in history, and wanted to use fiction as a way to explore some of my favorite alternatives. I’ve got a long list of authors I admire—Kacey Ezell, John Ringo, S. M. Stirling, David Weber, Seth A. Bailey, Stephen England, Steven Hildreth, my father (Daniel P. Bolger)… I could go for a bit. In addition to writing, I’ve found a lot of inspiration and influence from games—video games, board games, tabletop RPGs, anything that allows me to get into the headspace of someone ranging from an Imperial Japanese Navy Captain to a member of a radical eco-terrorist cell that’s the only hope against a tyrannical electric company. I find it fascinating to try to think through things that way.
What is your favorite color?
My favorite color is that shade of imperial scarlet that only really showed up in the finest moments of the British Empire. I enjoy being able to add depth to the worlds I create and the characters that inhabit them. Whenever possible, I try to inject elements of folks I actually know. Fighting Spirit was easy, as the tank crew I wrote, and the Japanese Naval Infantry NCO, were all based on people I’ve known in real life. I think writing not just WHAT you know, but WHO you know is one of the great ways to make it as a writer.
What is the average flying speed of an unladen paint brush?
My biggest problem? ADD. No, not diagnosed, it’s just tough to force myself to sit down and get through a story. I think I probably start five or six for every one I finish. As I grow as an author, I’m getting better and better about that—my biggest weapon against it is being able to weave in new influences into an existing work, rather than trying to restart from scratch.
What are the powers of your personal Holy Hand Grenade?
I’ve been told that I do world-building well—by my D&D group, readers, and in less-than-flattering terms on several high school write-ups about daydreaming. I try to write weapons well, and make each of my characters very distinct, too. I’m proud that I’ve written (and published!) a novel, and that I’ve had three different short stories published this year.
Favorite Muppet? The Swedish Chef!
Your Wrestler Name? El Juegoguerrero—“The Game Warrior” just doesn’t sound as good, so I’d have to train in lucha libre. I figure if it worked for Jack Black, it can work for me.
And Signature Wrestling Move? War Plan Orange—a complicated elbow drop off the turnbuckle
Favorite Weird Color? CADPAT
How Will You Conquer the World? Overwhelming amounts of Medium Range Ballistic Missiles (Rob’s Note: Miss Manners agrees. Inter-continental Ballistic Missiles are just not in fashion anymore.)
What Cartoon Character Are You? The Brain.
Best Present You’ve Ever Received? A brand new Kindle Fire from my partner, Vikky, for publishing my first novel.
What Do You Secretly Plot? A way to live in the greater D.C. area without having to sell my soul to make rent.
Favorite Sports Team? DAAAAAAAAAAAAA BEARSSS!
Cake or Pie? Neither—I’ll head for the chips and salsa.
Lime or Lemon? Lime by a mile (said Emil)
Favorite Chip Dip? Guacamole. No! Salsa. No! Queso. No, wait, Ceviche! Uhh… get back to me on this one.
Favorite Cereal? Not really a cereal guy, but I’ve got fond childhood memories of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of? Megahit—video game-infused synthwave.
Whisky or Whiskey? Whisky for sipping, Whiskey for slamming.
Favorite Superhero? Does Taskmaster count? If I’ve got to pick a hero, I’ll go with Iron Man.
Steak Temperature? Medium Rare. Rare if it’s somewhere or someone that tends to overcook.
Best Thing From the 80s? The F-15E Strike Eagle. Or maybe Predator, or Duran Duran, or Hulk Hogan… It was a busy time.
Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? Fall.
Favorite Pet? Tie between my dogs—Robert the Bruce and Francois Guizot.
Best Game Ever? Delta Green.
Coffee or Tea? Tea
Sci-Fi or Fantasy? Both!
Brought to you by the letter ___? X.
What question(s) would you like to ask me?
What inspired you to write your story for Trouble in the Wind? Are you intimidated about being in the same line-up as several alt history legends? (I certainly am, for what it’s worth!)
Rob’s Answer: Oh, I don’t know if I have enough electrons to answer this questions. My first goal was to continue the alternate history setting I’d created in Far Better to Dare and In Dark’ning Storms from Those in Peril and To Slip the Surly Bonds. However, I never could think of a short story with a twist that fit. I thought of all sorts of story ideas for a alternate World War I novel/series, which I might someday do, but short stories and chapters are different things.
And with that, the obvious was for me to look at my specialty. I’m ABD in Anglo-Saxon military history. I focused on early 10th century Mercian production and population to see if the numbers specified in their version of the Burghal Hidage were plausible or if they were pie in the sky figures. As a secondary question, I asked if those portions of Mercia that didn’t have enough population showed evidence of movement from more populous areas to supply the needed people.
By the way, I made a slight nod to this in my story when the apprentice got told to copy that part about Aethelflaed. That’s a direct reference to the Mercian Register portion of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which details her work building up those burhs until her death in 918.
Anyway, any study of Anglo-Saxon military history has to include a study of their heroic poetry. There’s too much history in Beowulf, the Finnsburh Fragment, the Battle of Brunanburh, and, of course, the Battle of Maldon to ignore.
Furthermore, the Battle of Maldon is a battle we often sing about in the SCA, thanks to the songwriting of Rosalind Jehanne. She graciously allowed me to use the first line of her song as the title of my story, because it fit so well.
So that’s when I looked for the twist. Short stories should have some sort of twist at the end. Once I found it, all I had to do was execute it.
As for whether or not I’m intimidated by the others in the anthology, I wasn’t, mostly because I never really paid attention to that. My job was to create a story, so that’s where I looked.
Now, of course, I realize I’m in the same book as David Weber, S.M. Stirling, and Kevin J. Anderson, three of my favorites. I never really had a chance to be intimidated, but I have been screaming a few barbaric yawps at this awesomeness since I actually paid attention.
And any convention CKP attends will have physical copies.
And where can we find you?
I’m not an official guest at any cons in 2020 (at least, not yet), but I attend Dragon*Con every year, and plan on LibertyCon and GenCon next year, so write my page if you want to meet up, I’d be happy to sign autographs and harangue you about whatever ideas I’ve had lately.
Do you have a creator biography?
Philip S. Bolger is an army veteran who left active duty service to work as a cog in the Military-Industrial Complex while pursing his passion for writing. “Fighting Spirit” is his third published short story, and second examining the Oahu Pact timeline. His debut novel, the Urban Fantasy adventure “The Devil’s Gunman,” was released in January of 2019. In his free time, he enjoys history, wargames, and pen and paper RPGs. He lives in the heart of Northern Virginia with his partner, Victoria, and their two dogs: Robert the Bruce and Francois Guizot. Philip can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Final question for you: What should I have asked but did not?
This is a pretty comprehensive interview! But… I’ll go with “Who is your favorite historical figure?” Mine is Francois Guizot (no, not my dog, I like him a lot, but this is who he’s named after!), a French Prime Minister during the July Monarchy, who, after being overthrown, had a second career as a history professor. That seems like a pretty good way to live!
Thanks to Philip 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 email@example.com.
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.
I hope everyone had a happy Halloween. The proto-incipient stepdaughter and I celebrated it in our entryway. She dressed up as Harley Quinn and handed out candy. I set up the laptop so we could watch the 49ers play the Cardinals. The 49ers are one of her teams, by the way, so we were going to watch the game somewhere, and this way we reward the hardy travelers on a chilly night.
Speaking of sports, congratulations to the Washington Nationals for winning the World Series. One thing I love about baseball is that it doesn’t always make sense. The home field disadvantage was something we’ll probably never see again. The home team losing every game? Crazy.
Probably happen again next year just because the whimsies of the baseball Furies like toying with us.
It’s been a pretty good week here. I sent off the final copy of my contribution for the third Phases of War anthology. Unlike Far Better to Dare and In Dark’ning Storms, this story is set in Anglo-Saxon England.
Then, after that, I got about 4000 words written in None Call Me Mother. I realized at one point that I had unconsciously done something exactly in the way I wanted, but didn’t know I wanted. I’ll explain this in more detail once the book is released, but serendipity raised its lovely head.
Side note: Serendipity is one of my favorite words. Serendipitously, it is smooth and mellifluous. As is mellifluous, by the way.
Another side note: Playing with words is one great part of writing. I get to look up etymologies, play with sounds, and hunt for just the right connotation. I may not always succeed, but I love the chase.
Current Playlist Song
As usual, since over half of my writing playlist are Rush songs, this week I’m listening to Beneath, Between, and Behind from their first album.
Quote of the Week
To follow up on the weirdness of this year’s World Series, here’s a perfect quote by Thomas Boswell.
“More than any other American sport, baseball creates the magnetic, addictive illusion that it can almost be understood.” – Thomas Boswell