Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Look what arrived today!

When I came home from work I found the box with my author's copies of "Another Girl, Another Planet" on the porch!

I also got my first five star review for "Another Girl, Another Planet" on Amazon:
Don't be put off by the title. Well worth the read!
February 22, 2017
By Ken of NJ
So many stories these days are derivative; this one isn't. I don't often give five stars but this novel truly deserves it. It is a unique SciFi mystery with a twist. Well written (a few editing errors but they didn't interfere with immersion), interesting and intriguing, the story presents androids in an interesting light. In tone, the story reminded me of some of the best by Heinlein or Clarke. Give it a won't be sorry.


If you want to go buy the book like right this minute, here's a link.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

When the wait is worth it

With as many short stories as I have written, I will submit outside genre fiction, to publications such as The New Yorker, Harper's and - in this case - Tin House.

Now, Tin House is one of the top fiction venues, period, so when I submit a story I am willing to be patient. This week I received a rejection from them for a story I submitted (using Submittable) in Oct. 2015.

You might think waiting 16 months for a reply is unacceptable, but in light of how many submissions they must get and how stiff the competition is, it's completely understandable.

And their reply was very nice:

"Unfortunately, we have decided to pass on this submission.

"Thank you, also, for your patience in waiting to hear back from us. Submittable generally makes managing the many submissions we receive each year much easier, but the staggering number of submissions we received last year means it is still a long process.

"We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future—and responding to it in a more reasonable amount of time."

Two notes here:

First, at least they replied. The New Yorker is so swamped, they simply state if you don't hear from them in six months you can assume you were rejected.

Back when The New Yorker still sent out rejection slips, I received a couple with handwritten notes encouraging me to submit again.

Second, a while back I commented that the number of venues which send me rejections with encouragements to submit again seems to have dropped in the past couple of years.

Referring back to Tin House's comments, the fact remains the top genre venues - folks like Asimov's, Clarkesword, F&SF and such - still drop in those little nuggets of encouragement. They're pros and act professionally.

I got another rejection this week - again, from a Top Tier venue, with the comment - following the mention of what might be considered a spoiler "Points for originality. I'm sorry the story didn't end up working for us."

Any feedback from editors is helpful, even with rejections. At the very least, it lets you know you're on the right track.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

On the road again

My convention schedule for this year - so far - is as follows:

* Ravencon in Williamsburg, Va. April 28-30

* Soonercon in Oklahoma City June 23-25

*Libertycon in Chattanooga June 30-July 2

* Armadillocon in Austin Aug. 4-6

* Dragoncon in Atlanta Sept. 1-4

If you are a friend on Facebook, and we've never met in person, introduce yourself if you are at any of these events!

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Lost Cosmonauts...

I don't know about other writers, but I keep a LOT of books on my shelves for reference. These days, I putter through the oldest of them, looking for nuggets of esoterica and inspiration you can't find on the web - stuff that was written a long time ago and has never been digitized.

According to a story in one of these books, "Strange World" by Frank Edwards, published in 1964, today is the anniversary of a mystery (or cover up) from the Cold War space:

On the morning of February 17, 1961, a giant Soviet booster blasted off from the Russian base at Baikonour near the Aral Sea. A few minutes after take off, tracking stations outside the Soviet Union had detected the launching and were tracking the flight of the lunik capsule.

""This much was routine. Word had leaked out that the next Soviet space effort would be a manned orbit of the moon, and that may well have been the purpose of the shot on February 17, 1961. If it was intended for a moon shot it failed, because it never attained sufficient speed to escape from the earth's gravitational pull. It turned into just another orbital launch—and that in turn developed into a tragedy when the Russians were unable to bring the capsule back from orbit.

"Tracking stations around the globe recorded the voices of a man and a woman who occupied the luckless capsule. For seven days and nights the doomed pair reported at regular intervals to their space bases inside the Soviet Union. Listeners outside Russia were puzzled at this pro-longed flight—and at Russia's strange silence about it. Although it exceeded anything that had been accomplished up to that time, the Soviets never mentioned it.

"Time after time, day and night, the pair in the capsule that was to be their sepulcher radioed down the cryptic message: "Everything satisfactory. We are maintaining the prescribed altitude." The climax to this eerie venture came in the early evening hours of February 24, 1961.

"Tracking stations at Uppsala, Bochum, Turin, and Meudon all recorded the final broadcast from the two ill-starred cosmonauts. After the customary statement that conditions were good and that the capsule was maintaining the prescribed altitude, there was a brief pause. Then the male voice: "We can read the dials. The signals are not clear, however. We see nothing."

"Then followed a silence of about five seconds, after which a woman's voice interjected: "I'll make it and hold tight with my right hand! Only this way can we maintain equilibrium. Look out the peep-hole! Look out the peephole! I have it. . . ."

"A few seconds later the male voice exclaimed: "Here! Here there is something! THERE IS SOMETHING! It's difficult. . . ." After a pause of several seconds, he continued, "If we do not get out, the world will never hear about it. It is difficult. . . ."

"At that point a Soviet transmitter broke in to announce that it was 8 P.M. Moscow time. When the station had ceased transmitting the time, the signals from the Lunik capsule had vanished into the silence of outer space—and they were never resumed."

The Soviet Union never acknowledged this supposed launch. Anyone every hear this story?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A possibility regained?

Back in 2014 I had an invite to be a panelist at LonCon 3. I had been a panelist at the WorldCon in San Antonio the previous year (it was nice to have a WorldCon I could drive to) and I was invited back to Worldcon for the following year.

The folks running LonCon were also very good to me with my panels. I had two, right on target with my author interests - Steampunk and Alternate History.

I've never owned a passport, and my wife and I were looking our first trip ever overseas.

Now, one of the guests for LonCon was Billie Piper, who played Dr. Who's companion Rose Tyler in 2005 and 2006.

When Dr. Who restarted in 2005, I did a double-take at that name - Rose Tyler. See, I live in East Texas, whose regional capital is Tyler - famed for its roses. In fact it's known as The Rose Capital of the World.

So I noticed the name, "Rose Tyler". And looking forward to LonCon, I had a thought. I would carefully pack a genuine Tyler Rose and while at the convention present it to "Rose Tyler".

I thought it was a cute idea.

Well, a few months before the convention, the newspaper where I worked was sold to a corporation, I had two weeks of paid vacation, but the cheap corporate assholes said that - since I was a new employee to them, I had no seniority, and no accrued vacation. They just wiped it out.

I could hardly afford to take a two weeks unpaid leave, so LonCon was off. I told the folks running the convention what happened, and we all felt bad.

I was given the heave-ho the following January, and I've worked at my current newspaper just over two years. When I wrote "Another Girl, Another Planet" last year, I modeled the villain on the SOB who fired me, as motivation.

 Last week I received word I was accepted as a visiting pro at Dragoncon. Yesterday the con, as part of updating its list of pros and guest, said Billie Piper would be there this year.

A-hah! So maybe I could still present Piper with one of those Tyler Roses, after all. Three years late, but better than never.

Latest reviews

"It’s possible that you haven’t run into the stories of Lou Antonelli. Since 2003, he’s been publishing delightful short tales of alternate history all over the nooks and crannies of the SF world. Thanks to Fantastic Books, we now have 28 of these little gems in one place. "Many of Antonelli’s stories have an unexpected twist ending. And many of them are what he calls “secret history” stories, which aren’t exactly alternate history—they’re set in our familiar history, but there’s always some element that contemporary observers missed. " -

- Don Sakers, The Reference Library, Analog July-Aug. 2014

A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli (debut 6/11 and reviewed by Frank D). Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be. Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

- Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots

“Great White Ship”: A traveler stuck waiting for a flight strikes up a conversation with an old airline employee. The Old Timer tells him a story of a Great White Airship that arrives from a most unusual destination. The story of a craft from an alternate reality and how it got there is only the precursor to the final act. This is one of my favorite stories from this site. I have a great passion for lighter-than-air craft and their potential as a future means of transport, which opens the story. The author uses this speculation to launch into an engaging tale. As fascinating as the main story line is, the alternate history premise that accompanies it is just as worthwhile. This story was well written and very well thought out. It is well worth the read. Recommended.

- James Hanzelka, Diabolical Plots

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