Saturday, December 29, 2007

I was 22 years old in 1979..

Most people think of the music of their youth as being the music from when they were in high school.

Not me. I graduated in 1975. The mid-70s were a slough between the Beatles Era and the New Wave. I mean, come on, how else could disco have taken root?

Anyone younger than me probably doesn't realizes just how totally dominating the Beatles were in music during their time together. The result was that when they broke up, it took years for any decent music to arise again.

John Denver was a nice guy, but his songs! Remember "Sunshine"?

Back in 1979, I was slouching down the street in New York City when I heard this playing on a car stereo. I almost fell to my knees - "Oh dear God, mucic THAT I LIKE!"

Something new was in the wind.

So the music of my youth was the New Wave. Blondie, Split Enz. The Hooters. OMD. The Cars. The Ramones. Stuff like that.

Which is strange because that was when I was in the my late 20s. Late bloomer, I guess.

Recently I found this video on YouTube. It's self explanatory - and great. Enjoy.

Biography published

My biography is up on the author's page at Jim Baen's Universe. "The Witch of Waxahachie" is available as an e-arc story (electronic advance review copy). It's being published in the April issue.

No new stories so far, still have a lot bouncing around in the slush piles. "Sympathy for Salieri" is stalled for the time being - can't come up with a plausible ending. However, my "space ghost" story - "Asleep with Ghosts, and with a Tombstone for my Pillow" - seems to have come together faster and may be the next one written up.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Demise of Sentinel S-F

It lasted just over a month, but the latest version of Sentinel S-F is gone. But first...

I haven't posted since Dec. 6. As is so common in schools and businesses, winter colds have been rampaging through my office. I held up for a good while, but on December 8 I was so feverish that I actually had to go to sleep with a fan blowing on my head.

Between battling my own cold and dealing with the staffing issues created by other people's absences - not to mention the normal holiday-related special projects - I haven't any time to write (or post) recently.

Around the middle of the month I went through the effort to read through the Sentinel S-F slush pile and pick a couple of stories. Then I found I couldn't cut and paste text into my web pages using the web page editor offered by my host, Hypermart, so I couldn't publish the stories.

I tried for over ten days to resolve the issue with Hypermart, but apparently their web editor sucks. Since I don't know how to create and upload web pages on my own, I had relied on the web editor.

The upshot is I cancelled my account and am waiting for a refund (I paid for a year in advance) So away goes the latest version of Sentinel S-F, which was on the web just over a month.

So it goes.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Latest Publication

The British magazine Twisted Tongue has published my latest story, "My Ugly Little Self.

PDF downloads are free.

This is the 8th issue of the magazine. TT is the only UK magazine - so far - to publish my stuff. They published my short "Insight" and my flash "It's Wonderful, Life" this past spring.

With the publication of "Off the Hook", my collaboration with Ed Morris, in Dark Recesses next month, I will have been published in four countries - U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada.

"My Ugly Little Self" is my 37th story published since June 2003.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

If puns were a crime...

this would be a capital offense.

But I couldn't help myself.

I mentioned in my previous post foot problems. Well, this evening, I was dealing with my toenails. As a diabetic, I try to take good care of my feet, and I was trimming the nails after using a foot spa, in my private office at home.

My little toes are very cramped, and to help me get at them with the nail clippers, I stuck a pen between the small toe on my left foot and the other toes.

While I was cutting the nail, I called Patricia to get my some hydrogen peroxide. When she came in the room, she looked at me and asked, "Why are you holding a pen with your foot?"

I looked down. Yep, she was right - it looked like my foot was holding the pen. So I looked at her for a second, and said, "I was writing a foot note!"

Poor Patricia.

She's probably going to put a plastic bag over my head while I sleep tonight...

Another riddle solved

I finished up "Meet Me at the Grassy Knoll" on Monday and dropped it in the mail to Sheila on Tuesday. In that story, I solve the riddle of the second gunman at the Kennedy assassination. Hint: He wasn't shooting at Kennedy.

I am hung up right now on which short story to work on next, or whether to start on a book. I've been ponderng while dealing with another orthopedic problem. Because of my diabetes, my legs and feet are very stiff, and apparently last weekend I somehow, while sleeping at night, strained the muscle in the arch of my left foot. I must have folded the foot up a funny way. I guess a normal person might have felt it when it happened and woke up, but I didn't feel it until I got up in the morning.

I've been hobbling around all week, and this weekend I've been working in a systematic fashion to deal with the problem. But the ache has been debilitating me all week.

Last spring I had another problem with my left leg, when my flannel pajamas bunched up so tight around my knee that it was twisted. It took me two months to recover from that.

Ahh, the joys of diabetes. Well, I'm grateful that my circulation and healing remains fine, even if I have pronounced neuropathy.

I haven't posted a video in a while. Here's an oldie but goodie I found on YouTube, from the days of my youth. I guess I've been thinking of the '80s because the book outline I may start working on has a crucial plot twist that involves technology falling back to about the 1985 era - before cell phones and the interbet were common.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Return of Sentinel SF

It took a little work and some research, but Sentinel SF is back. After its demise in late September, I got a lead from one of our published authors as to a good web host. I got a new (and more logical) domain name registered and a web page up just before Thanksgiving, and this weekend I got it to where I feel it can be deemed officially launched.

The new url is Go check it out.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"My Ugly Little Self"

Claire Hill from the U.K. magazine "Twisted Tongue" says Issue No. 8 (November) should be ready very soon. This issue will feature my little alternate history/Neanderthals tale "My Ugly Little Self".

TT printed my short "Insight" and flash "It's Wonderful, Life", in its May issue. So far its been the only U.K. mag to publish my work. Its a POD (print on demand) publication.

"My Ugly Little Self"

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another one done

I finished up "The Goddess of Bleecker Street" over the weekend. I think it clocked in at just over 1,800 words. I dropped it in the mail this morning to Sheila.

I had a great burst of creativity Sunday and pounded out a rough first draft of "Meet Me at the Grassy Knoll". It came in just over 3,000 words. I'm sure there will be a lot of adjustments, but my experience is that - while stories always tighten up - later additions will mitigate that shrinkage somewhat. I'm guessing now "Grassy Knoll" will ultimately came in at 2,800 words.

I'm already thinking of who's on deck. Right now, I'm betting "Sympathy for Salieri" is next. We'll see what the portents foretell... and all that.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"The Goddess of Bleecker Street"

I think I've put the final polish on "The Goddess of Bleecker Street" tonight. It is another fairly short story - only 1,831 words - but that's all it took. Writing it up as a dialogue saves a lot of words.

I'm wondering whether - having worked out my last two stories in less than 2,000 words - whether its a coincidence or whether my writing is getting tighter.

I've sure jumped around in these two stories - from the 1st century to the near future.

I'm letting the "sourdough" of the "Witch of Waxahachie" arc rise. After dashing off "Holley With an E" and "Ed Sullivan Show Magic", I used up some of my best ideas.

I'm still leaning towards working on "Meet Me at the Grassy Knoll" next. Any time travel story that revolves around the Kennedy assassination is going to have a few strikes against it with the pro editors, but maybe I can pull off what I was credited with doing in "Avatar" and making an original tale from one of the most weather-worn tropes.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Two more, almost

Getting settled down in the new house has allowed me to get back to some serious writing. While I wasn't able to touch a keyboard for a month, I was stockpiling ideas, and they're beginning to tumble out.

This past weekend I finished an AH called "Custodes". It's set in a 1st century Rome and supposes that - Archimedes having invented the electric motor - there was color TV and Reality Shows at the time of the Neroian Persecution of Christians.

It started with an intriguing idea, but I felt the only way to approach it without getting ridiculously dramatic was as satire. ("Custodes" is the Latin equivalent of "Cops")

It went out in Tuesday's mail to Sheila at Asimov's. Since then I have finished the first draft of a post-Singularity send-up called "The Queen of Bleecker Street". One thing unusual about this latter story is that it lent itself to an all-dialogue format.

Hopefully I'll get that finished up this weekend. Next up I think is a time travel tail-biter called "Meet Me at the Grassy Knoll". I'll probably have that one ready by Nov. 22 - if you know what I mean.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Back on Track

Well, obviously I've been off-line for some time now because of the move. We packed feverishly until Oct. 20, which was the day for the movers, and then had to make three more trips back to the old house to clean and collect the last of our stuff. We finally handed over the keys Oct. 30.

Getting back on-line was delayed because we needed to have a phone line installed in the room where the main computer resides. Then after that, there was another delay while I got a USB-Ethernet adapter. But we're finally up and running.

During the past month, almost all my submissions have returned from the various slush piles. Writers of the Future said I was an honorable mention - again (that's like the third time in a row).

I had time tonight to get together a half dozen stories for submission. Two are going our tomorrow by snail mail. Four went off by e-mail.

Dark Recesses has posted its TOC for its January issues. It will be the first print publication for that magazine. I am very happy that "Off the Hook" is being published. Here's news I copued from their web site:


Keene, Everson, Williams, Pringle, Burris, Melican, etc...

What do these names have in common? They each, along with several talented others, make up the (mostly) final TOC for Dark Recesses Press - Vol.3 Issue #9 - our first print issue after two years as digital only.


STICKY FINGERS by Stephen Woodworth


OFF THE HOOK - Edward Morris and Lou Antonelli

SANCTUARY - Erin Pringle

RINGS - Erik Williams

Книга Жизни - Sean Melican (the title is in Russian but roughly translates to The Book of Life.)


NiNe QuestioNs with BriaN KeeNe by A.J. BrowN

Part 1 of a two part, in-depth article on Waverly Sanitorium by Chris Perridas

A Nick Cook Review of NEEDLES & SINS by John Everson

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Still packing boxes

Not much to report - a lot of work going into the move. We close on the new house tomrrow. Got the contract for "Off the Hook" in the email - haven't even had time to run it off. Hope to do so this weekend.

Packing boxes

Sunday, October 07, 2007

"Off the Hook"

Got great news this evening. Ed Morris forwarded an email. The bi-annual magazine Dark Recesss will be publishing our collaboration, "Off the Hook", in its January issue. This is the first story to be published that was a real collaboration between us. It was a story that Ed started, but I took it and I think I did some crucial work. I'm proud of how it came out.

Dark Recesses in based in British Columbia. Not only will it be nice to see it in print, I'll get a little money, since the mag pays three cents a word.

The story is about an old stand up comedian who finagles a deal when Death comes to fetch him.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sentinel S-F

Sentinel S-F lost its web host and went off the internet Sep. 28. It's probably a blessing is disguise; it will give me an opportunity to start fresh and come up with something snazzy. I will be working on get another location. Of course, just right this minute I'm deep into a house move. We should close on the new home before the end of this coming week.
There are a number of reasons I hadn't posted lately. One big reason is that I had another accident with fire ants last weekend. I was doing some yard work and picked up a piece of wood that had ants beneath it. Before I knew what happened, they flowed onto my hand. I had 36 bites up to my wrist, one-third of them on my thumb. I was able to to kill the pain of the stings by washing my hands with apple cider vinegar, but the pustules have been haeling all week. It looked like I will have some permanent mottling on the hand from the scars.
And of course, the wife and I have been packing all week.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Back from Fencon

Because my current job requires me to work Saturdays, I was only to attend Fencon briefly. I left work Saturday about 3:30 p.m. and got to the Crown Plaza Hotel in Addison two hours later.

I checked in - quickly - and took a look at the souvenir program book, which included my story "Body by Fisher". The artist did a nice black and white wash drawing of a Old Delta Royale 88 - the same car that figures in the story - and it looked great. Sunday I bought an extra ten copies to give to co-workers, family members and friends.

I caught Carol Nelson Douglas at the autograph table just as she was leaving. I had promised a friend at work who is a big Midnight Louie fan that I would pick up a book. Pulled that off a the nick of time. I then attended Connie Willis' Guest of Honor talk at 6 p.m.

Willis was charming and funny. I found it very interesting to hear what went into her becoming both such a lover of literature and such an accomplished author. I later had the opportunity to chat with her both in the hallway and the con suite on Sunday.

Willis was wearing an "Impeach Bush" button - a rarity in Texas - and Sunday I mentioned the same thing I said to Gardner Dozois when I met him at Philcon in 2003: President Bush is not unanimously popular where I live. In East Texas, he is considered too LIBERAL.

Willis started to profess disbelief, but a local author sitting next to her jumped in and confirmed my tale.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sentinel S-F Issue No. 5

The fifth issue of Sentinel S-F has been published. It has a flash fiction theme, with five stories from 173 to 1,140 words. They are:

Something Apollinous Rhodius Left Out - Berrien Henderson
The Case for RFID - Sue Lange
Don't Forget to Write - Dan Pearlman
Spin - Paul Carlson
The Scrawl of Cthulhu - David Marshall

Hope you enjoy the stories.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fencon schedule

I got my schedule of panels for Fencon. Because my curent job requires that I work on Saturdays, I'm only available for panels for Sunday, but I'm very happy with the panels they gave me, to wit:

Sunday 10:00 AM Second Stage
Career Crisis and Changing Course
Description: How can a writer reinvent him/herself? Alternatives in careers.

Sunday 11:00 AM Main Stage
TechnoPeasants Unite!
Description: Discussion of IPSTP Day and the giving away of books,music, art, etc. to stimulate interest and sales.

Sunday 12:00 noon Programming 3
Reader Feedback *
Description: Non-writers discuss what they read and why.
Manifest: For non-writers to discuss what they read and why. Will also be audience participation.

Sunday 1:00 PM Main Stage
Face-Off: The Difference Between Male and Female Writers *
Description: So, do women and men really approach a scene in different ways? Find out with our panel of writers.
* = Panel moderator.

I will head into Dallas as soon as I finish with work on Saturday. With luck I will be in Dallas by 5 or 6 Saturday evening. giving me time to attend suite parties.**

To be fair to other cons, I'm not accepted any more guest appearances until next year when I have some vacation time accumulated. This Fencon is the last con I had scheduled before I took my current job on July 31.

**And no, Bobby, I will NOT be getting a massage...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In the mail

I finished up "Holley with an E", my sequel to "The Witch of Waxahachie" and dropped it in the mail yesterday. It's one of my few stories to come in as a novellette - the final product was 8,100 words. "Ed Sullivan Show Magic", another story in the same story arc, is at another magazine right now.

I'm pondering which story outline I need to work on now, but "The Dragon of Dallas" may be moving up in the line. I have some previously written material - which arose from the conceit of what it would be like if a high school athletic team who had a dragon as a mascot had a REAL dragon on the sidelines - that may provide a hook.

With both the publication of "The Witch of Waxahachie" and the Nebula Awards weekend - in Austin - happening in April, I'm trying to get as many stories lined up to peddle.

I dropped my quarterly entry for the Writers of the Future Contest in the mail today.

A conversation today reminded me of how far away from my hometown I have wandered to live, and how - although I wouldn't have thought it way back when, when I was a kid - how much I miss it. Sometimes I get real nostalgic. Thus this video.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Latest story, and an honorable mention.

The latest issue of Planetary Stories is on line - Shelby Vick and company have published "Fermi's Fraternity". Here's a link:

It's my 34th story published since June 2003.

I received word today that I was an Honorable Mention (again) for the Writers of the Future Contest - this time for the quarter ending June 31st. This means I finished in the top 15% of the quarterly entries.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Pleasant visit to the mailbox

I hope everyone who reads this had a nice Labor Day weekend. I actually went out and bought a small grill. I fired it up Monday and cooked up some hot dogs and sausage. The results were more than satisfactory, and we'll probably do that again real soon.
The Hugo awards were announced Saturday at the WorldCon at Yokohama, Japan. It was nice to see - in the report that was released after the voting was announced - that I was a runner-up again for the Campbell Award. I got four nominations. Last year I had five. It's nice to know a few people thought of me when they sent in their ballots.
It was a productive weekend in that I finished the first draft of "Holley With an E". It's only the second story I've ever written that clocks in at novellette length; it currently stands at 9,300 words. This is the second sequel I've written to "The Witch of Waxahachie".
AND speaking of "The Witch of Waxahachie", I got a pleasant post-Labor Day surprise today when I got my check for the story in the mail today from Eric Flint. At eight cents a word, that's the most money I've ever made for a story.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Latest in the writing

I got a start this week on my next story in the story arc that began with "The Witch of Waxahachie". I've gotten down about 3,300 words for "Holley with an E", which is the story where we finally get to meet Republic of Texas President Charles Hardin Holley.

Got good news today - Eric Flint sent the contract for "The Witch of Waxahachie". I saved it, read it, and approved it in a couple of hours. The terms are the same as he told me in Tulsa - it's slated to run next April.

Not much else to report. The health is doing fine - I'm consistently getting blood pressure readings in the Pre-Hypertenson range, which is a great improvement.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Report from the cha room

I was on the chat at the Writing to Publish chat room last night. Writing to Publish isn't specifically a F&SF group, but I think I was able to help. There were probably a dozen people there.

I finished up "Ed Sullivan Show Magic" and it went in the mail today. I ran it past the Baen's Slush and got a couple of good critiques before completing it. I may run my next story by another critique group, though, just to spread the pain.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Writing to Publish chat

I will be the guest Monday night, August 21, for a chat with the Writing 2 Publish group:

It will be held at 7 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

They describe themselves as a "critique group dedicated to helping fiction writers develop their talents and get published. This site showcases the work of our members, and serves to assist all writers in improving their skills."

They meet live every Monday night on AOL online, but once a month have a special topic or speaker, and I will be there tomorrow night. Stop on by.

I finished the first draft of "Ed Sullivan Show Magic" last night and now I'm tweaking the story. This follows in the story arc that's started with "The Witch of Waxahachie". I think as a result of this story I may have what may become the title of the book which is evolving.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Saturday night at Nasfic

Saturday night was the only night I was at Nasfic where I could visit a few suites. I wasn't there Thursday, and I was exhausted after the train trip Friday.

I was still feeling fairly woozy, but well enough to visit a few. The SFWA suite was fairly quiet, at least while I was there, and they had good food and drinks. Unfortunately, the way I was feeling all weekend I never touched a drop.

I stopped by David Hartwell's suite for Tor. We chatted briefly. He was handing out some old advance copies from his office, and I picked up "Gladiator" by Harry Turtledove and Matt Jarpe's "Radio Freefall".

In chatting with David I mentioned my interest in South Africa as an alternate history subject, and he introduced me to Thomas Hill, a fellow who grew up in Capetown but now lives in New York. We had a LONG conversation. It was great to find someone who could talk about SA so knowledgeably. I told him about "The Amerikaan Way", the story published by Atomjack in April.

Monday, August 13, 2007


I didn't mean to post the same video twice. Here's the second one:


Whoops! I forgot to mention that Mel Tatum was on that last panel on "How to Know When to Stop Writing" and in fact did a very fine job as moderator (moderatrix?)

Oh, BTW, a quixk comment: This was the first con ever where my name was on the t-shirt, since they listed all the guests on the back. Minor ego-boo, but still nice.

OK, here's a pair of videos - and if you ever read a story by me called "Ed Sullivan Show Magic" - which is part of my "Witch of Waxahachie" story arc - you'll know why these are grouped:

"Lost and Forgotten Writers from the Pulp Fiction Era"

This panel Saturday morning was probably the single panel I enjoyed the most. I must admit the "Far Out Physics" panel Friday night was the best attended one I participated in - and it must have been one of the more successful panels at NASFIC - but "Pulp Writers" was also very well attended, and I was able to contribute more (my practical knowledge of physics being negligible)

I assumed someone must have read someplace where the blog No Fear of the Future called me "the heir to the old penny a word pulps."

I brought along some old crumbling pulp magazines to display on the table. As it happened, another panelist, Lloyd Kropp, did the same thing.

David Hartwell was on the panel. This was a first for me, and as it happened, he had a lot to contribute. We all had a good time, and there was a good interaction with members of the audience. I think everyone had a good time.

The magazine I took were all duplicates from when I had bought lots on eBay, so I didn't intend to haul them back to Texas, and when I mentioned this, there was a rush to the table. Hartwell took a copy of Amazing Stories from 1947 that featured The Shaver Mystery. Kropp also took a copy of Amazing, and the rest went to audience members.

David and I chatted briefly after the panel. I didn't know he grew up in Massachusetts, also. Lloyd said he enjoyed my contributions to the panel.

My next panel was "Knowing When to Stop Writing". I think this was a very helpful panel to the people who attended. There were some very good writers on the panel, including Robert Reed, Dave Marusek, Rob Chilsson, Thomas Stratman, Richard Lee Byers and Laura Underwood.

Most of the discussion was on how to know what you've got, such as a short story as opposed to a novella as opposed to a novel, and when to what what and where is going wrong in your story.

Rob Chilson is very enthusiastic about his craft and is great to watch on a panel. It was fun just to sit next to him. Dave Marusek as usual has some real helpful pithy advice. At one point, discussing what type of story fits into what length of story, he opined that a short story is long enough to tell about an incident, a novella is long enough to tell about a person's life, and a novel is long enough to to describe a world.

I had one of those light bulb moments when he said this, because I realized that's why "The Witch of Waxahachie" and the related stories I am working on can develop into a novel, because I created a world with "Witch".

I later told Dave in the hallway that his advice at ConDFW in 2003 helped me break into magazines (success in 1/3 luck, 1/3 talent and 1/3 connections) and now this latest piece of advice would help me break into novels.

That was my last panel of the day, I went to a few parties Saturday night. More on that in my next post.

Oh, on the health front, I'm feeling much better. The inner ear infection is getting beaten back by the antibiotics, and my blood pressure is now in the low range for Stage I Hypertension - which is a big improvement. I have to take my blood pressure at home every night and turn a log over to my doctor.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Armadillocon, and more and NASFIC

Armadillocon in Austin was held this weekend. Needless to say, I didn't make it. I would like to have seen a few people, but the combination of my new job (I work Saturdays now) and my recovering health pretty much scotched that. Besides, I've never been invited to be a guest or panelist,

One nice thing about NASFIC was the opportunity to visit with people I wouldn't ordinarily see. Of course, there's always the case when you find someone who's not talkative or friendly. Some people don't have high social skills, and a few, I'm sure, are just stuck up.

Gordon Van Gelder stopped and chatted with me in the lobby of the convention center Saturday afternoon. We talked a bit about stories, but realy I was kinda interested in how the new periodical postal rate increase of this summer is affecting small magazines. Gordon said it's tough, and although he can weather it, some of the smaller magazines will probably fold.

It's probably goofy to talk about that, but as a onetime holder of a periodical permit for my own newspaper - only six years ago - I was curious to get that perspective from Gordon, who's his own publisher.

I also stopped and chatted with Eric Flint outside for a while between panels. He also introduced me briefly to Toni Weisskopf at the Holiday Inn.

Before the panel on Far Out Physics Saturday night, Ted Kosmatka came up and introduced himself. Ted's first pro-level story, "The God Engine", was published in Asimov's in November 2005, just two months after my "Rocket for the Republic" - so I guess we're both new writers.

Ted was very friendly and we chatted a bit. We both have high opinions of each other's stories and got better acquainted.

My first panel on Saturady morning was on "Lost and Forgotten Authors from the Pulp Era". That panel went very well, and I'll take it up in my next posting.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

On Nasfic (Friday)

The train arrived in St. Louis 45 minutes late. That combined with the fact I had fallen asleep and didn't get off the train until it was in the station a half hour combined so that I missed my first panel at 10 a.m. Friday, "Is There Room in an SF Universe for God?"
My next two panels were back to back starting at noon at the Holiday Inn, "Laugh It Up, Fuzzball" at noon and "What do Aliens Mean in Popular Culture?" at 1 p.m. That was good because I was able to sit still and catch my breath.
Steve Silver did a great job as moderator. This was the first time I was on a panel with Senela "Shrinking Violet" Rosen. The other panelist was Laura Underwood.
I met Dave Marusek at this panel; he was a panelist at the very first panel I attended (ConDFW) in 2003. I told him how much I had appreciated the advice he had given then.
I was on a panel Friday night at 8 p.m. "Far Out Physics". I was worried that - being opposite the Guest of Honor interview - no one would come. But the room was packed, standing room only.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Reports of my... oh, well

I had a great time in St. Louis - or should I say Collinville, across the river - and it will probably take a few posts to say everything.
Bear in mind, my weekend ended with my being rushed to the emergency room at a local hospital. If I had been better, I probably would have had a spectacular weekend.
You see, Sunday afternoon I collapsed in the Green Room at the Gateway Convention Center, and I was taken to Anderson Hospital in Maryville, Illinois. Now that the proverbial dust has cleared, I can look back and see what all led up to the fiasco.
I've had a problem with allergies all this year; it's probably been aggravated by the wet spring we had in Texas. For the past few months, I've been taking Benedryl on a regular basis.
I didn't realize it, but I had developed a sinus infection, and before I left on Thursday it probably had begun to spread to my left inner ear. Now, the complication was that I took the train to St. Louis.
Ordinarily, the train would be comfortable, but with the constant rocking on the rails - and my ear filling with fluid - I developed terrible motion sickness. By Friday morning, as we rolled through Missouri, I was retching in a trash can.
I was so drained that when the train actually arrived in St. Louis, I didn't wake up. A train crew member woke me and got me off the train at the very last minute.
The con committee was nice enough to send someone out to get me, and I lucked out and got a room in a motel across from the convention center.
With a little rest, I felt better, and I began my rounds of panels. But I didn't know what really had caused the motion sickness.
Now, a second problem kicked in. I've been taking medicine for high blood pressure for over two years. Recently, it hasn't been working as well as needed. Quite honestly, I was waiting for a change in my job before it could be adjusted. I was working so long and hard that it was probably causing most of the problem.
Well, my last month on the old job I had to work two positions. It was the hardest stint I ever did. For three days in there, I actually had to do three Jobs. But I started my new job the Tuesday before the con.
I guess going from such a hard job to starting the new job to the con was a strain. I also compounded it by eating junk food. My diet on Friday and Saturday was mostly White Castle, pepperoni pizza and soft pretzels.
I had been feeling woozy and lightheaded at times all weekend. My last panel was Sunday at 10 a.m. I got a nice half hour chair massage at 11:30, and went to get some lunch, but I began to real REALLY bad. I also was getting very sensitive to hustle and bustle of the con. The noise and light hurt.
I remembered the Green Room, and went in there. It WAS nice and quiet, and I laid down, but I felt worse and worse and after a half hour realized not only could I not get up, but I was in danger of passing out entirely.
I used my cell phone and called 911. The emergency type people came and took me to the local hospital, where they found my blood pressure was reaching stroke level (like around 210/140). They gave me some meds to drop it down and after a few hours, after I was stable, they let me go.
Steve Norris, the chair of the Archon Committee, had called Patricia at home. Beth Bancroft from the Archon Committee stayed with me at the hospital. Bless her heart!
Archon gave me a room at the Holiday Inn Sunday night, while Patricia made arrangements to fly back. Monday morning they drove me to the airport (I was still suffering motion sickness - at one point, they had to stop the van so I could retch out the side).
Thanks to Dramamine - and two very smooth flights - I made it back to Texarkana Monday afternoon. Tuesday morning, I saw my personal physician. She found out about the infection that had affected my inner ear and prescribed antibiotics.
As for the blood pressure, she doubled the dosage of the medicine I have been taking, prescribed a second one, and gave me a third to only be used in case of an emergency such as happened Sunday.
I also bought a home blood pressure monitor; I have to check my blood pressure twice a day, and turn the results into my doctor.
While I was in the emergency room at the hospital, as I was recovering I regaled Beth Bancrodft with imagined headlines:
"Author drops dead at NASFIC;
'We never lost one before', says Archon chair."
Well, I guess later I'll actually talk about the con!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Now for Archon

Well, this is going to be an interesting week. I started a new job today as the manging editor of a small daily newspaper. For the time being I have a 45-minute commute, but the wife and I will be moving to the city by the end of the year.

It's nice to have both a change of pace and locale. The largest motivation for the change was pay, of course, but there are always other considerations.

I have to take Friday off because I already committed to attend Archon/NASFIC in St. Louis. Like I said, it will be an interesting week. This will be the first time I've attended a national convention.

Oh, here's my panels at Archon:

Fri, 10:00am GC - Ballroom A Is There Room in an SF Universe for God?

Fri, Noon HI - Ballroom B Laugh It Up, Fuzzball

Fri, 1:00pm HI - Ballroom B What do Aliens Mean in Popular Culture?

Fri, 8:00pm GC - Marquette A Far Out Physics

Sat, 10:00am GC - Ballroom D6 Lost and Forgotten Writers from the Pulp Fiction Era

Sat, Noon GC - Marquette A Knowing When to Stop Writing

Sat, 4:00pm HI - Exec 3 (Reading) Lou Antonelli

Sun, 10:00am GC - Marquette A Promoting Your Book

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Yet more on Conestoga

Yes, I said I was getting caught up.

Sunday I was on a panel at 11 a.m. entitled "As You Know, Bob", on the subject f infodumps. My colleagues were Gloria Oliver, Melanie Fletcher, Beverly Hale, and Glenn Sixbury.

I felt guilty about my panel the previous day. After what Eric Flint told me, I really was pretty much stunned. I don't recall a heck of a lot. So I wanted to do a better job on this panel.

As it happened, there was no indication on the program who the moderator was, and I volunteered. It was a very good panel, and I think everyne enjoyed it. Glenn later thanked me for moderating it.

BTW, these are four very nice people. Bev Hale is a real sweetheart; one of the nicest people I see regularly at cons.

Brad Sinor and I were supposed to have a reading at 1 p.m. I told Brad I wouldn't be able to do it. Because of allergies I've had throat irritation, and I realized if I read out loud for any length of time I'd probably lose my voice.

I was on the road by 1:30 p.m. There are some very desolate stretches of road between Tulsa and East Texas. I din not enjoy driving through them late Friday night, and I wanted to get home before dark.

Which I did.

More on Conestoga

OK, here's more on Conestoga.

Needless to say, with the demands of my job, I couldn't take Friday off. I left home Friday evening and reached the hotel at midnight. It still was plenty of time for my first panel Saturday, which I described in the previous post.

That evening there was a "wake" in the hotel bar in memory of Jim Baen. Paula Goodlett was nice enough to introduce me and mention the story that Baen's had bought, to the proverbial loud huzzahs. As the tumult died down, someone said "You need to write a sequel called 'The Nuns of Nacogdoches'!

Eric Flint turned around and said, "I'm NOT buying that!!!"

I fell back in my chair. "Oh, God, Joe Lansdale would kill my ass!"

Flint and friends had a 1632 mini-con within the larger con, and later that night they sent out for pizza, which is where I snarfed dinner. When I'm out of town on my own I will eat types of food that my wife doesn't like, which is why lunch Saturday was Chinese and pepperoni pizza that night.

I visited the FenCon and ConDFW suites that night. Both were serving up Shiner Beer, which was appreciated. FenCon is publishing my story "Body by Fisher" in its sounvenir program book.

OK, today's video is in honor of "The Witch of Waxahachie":

Some catching up to do

Sorry I haven't blogged in a week and a half, but I've been busy. I just finished out my two weeks at my old job. I start a new job next week. I found a job with a small daily as managing editor. It pays $13,000 more than what I'm making now.

The reason I've been so busy is that I've been doing two jobs for these past two weeks. The sports editor left (also to join the staff at a daily) two weeks ago. My boss didn't get the job filled, so for these past two weeks I've been having to do the news AND sports. And at the beginning of this week I was doing THREE jobs because the typesetter quit without notice. The paper where I worked comes out twice a week, so I had to do the news, sports and typesetting all by myself for the mid-week edition. Of course, I didn't get any extra compensation.

A new typesetter started Thursday, so things eased up slightly for the weekend paper, the last one I did. I'll probably need to do multiple postings to get caught up, especially since I was at Conestoga in Tulsa last weekend and I'm going to Archon in St. Louis next weekend.

I had a great time at Conestoga, and some very good news. Baen's Universe has accepted "The Witch of Waxahachie". It's been in the slushpile since April of last year. Managing Editor Paula Goodlett passed on it last year - something I learned at the previous Conestoga.

This year, Baen's editor Eric Flint was at Conestoga. When I got my list of panels, I saw we would be on the same panel at 11 a.m. Saturday. I thought, "wouldn't it be nice if he turned to me and said "I accepted your story."

Well, that's what happened!!!

The dialogue wasn't as clean cut as all that. The panel was on Alternate Histories, Secret Histories and Pocket Universes. When I strolled in I sat down next to Flint (who I recognized from his picture on the web) but of course he had no idea who I was.)

While I was mustering courage to introduce myself, Paula - who was sitting in the first row - caught my attention.

"Do you know when your slot it?"

Of course, I gave a general expression of puzzlement. Paul's eyes widened and she got Flint's attention. "Hey, that's Lou Antonelli. He wrote 'The Witch of Waxahachie.'''

Flint thought for a second and turned. "Hey, good story. Did you get your contract in the email?"

"No-o-o." I quavered. "I didn't know it was accepted."

"Oh, well, I've been really busy. I'll send the contract when I get back home. You're accepted."


Needless to say, I was otherwise speechless.

Flint said later one of the problem that bedevils him is that Baen's has relatively few slots. I found out that to get on their schedule, I had to pass muster with three editors, Paula, Eric and Mike Resnick. Paula said Mike is tough to please.

Later, Eric looked up his schedule on his computer in his room. "Witch" is slated to run next April.

More later.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Getting ready for Tulsa

I'll be off this weekend to Tulsa for Conestaga 11. Here's my intinery:

Saturday at 11:00 a.m. - Salon F: "Secret and Pocket Histories: Is history really that fun?"

Sun at 10:00 a.m. - Salon F: "As you know, Bob. The positives and negatives of infodumps."

Sun 1:00 p.m - Chickasaw: Reading.

I think I'll read "Avatar", the story that was publised by Darker Matter in April. It's certainly my high point for the year (so far) and the ONLY story I've ever had that got unanimously positive reviews!

Conestoga will be my first con since ConDFW in February. Fencon, which is also in Dallas, in September, will be publishing my near future disaster story "Body by Fisher" in its program book.

I got my panels for Archon, which is the NASFIC. I have seven panels on Friday, Saturady and Sunday, plus a reading. I'll post those later.

The nice thing about Archon, which is in St. Louis, is that I'll be able to take the Texas Eagle Amtrak train overnight both to and from. That should be comfortable.

I'm starting a new job at another newspaper July 30. When I accepted the post, I asked that I could still have Friday, August 2, off because I had already accepted the Archon invite and made my room reservation.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Nice egoboo

Jerry Wright of Bewildering Stories passed along this comment he received about a story he published in October 2005, "The Queen of Guilty Pleasures":

"As a writer of detective stories and other fiction and non-fiction, I want to
pass along my thanks for writing such a good piece. Dialogue and plot
development were top-rate. I'm also a Bettie Page fan, so I'm biased. Now,
back to BW to see if there are others there you've written."
--Walt Giersbach

Well, thanks Walt.

I'm getting for Conestoga next weekend, and NASFIC (Archon) two weekends after that.

OK, here's the Video of the Day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pretty coincidental

Just a few days after I got that letter about the honorable mention from the Writers of the Future, I received an email - at my newspaper address - from Galaxy Press, Turns out they offered a review copy of the latest edition. I said "sure!"

Reminds me of the first con I ever attended, ConDFW in 2003. I didn't pay, I got in on my media pass.

Here's the Video of the Day. If you ever see a story by me entitled "Holly with and 'E''', think of this tinny piano version of "Peggy Sue" - like you'd hear in an Old West Saloon.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Latest from Writers of the Future

I got a letter in the mail from the Writers of the Future. This is maybe the fourth of fifth time I've sent them a story. They said I was considered an honorable mention for the quarter January 1 through March 31. They said that means my story finished in the Top 10 to 15% of the entries. That's the first time I've received that type of letter.
I looked up more information on the web, and saw on a web site that "Honorable Mention" means quarter-finalist. Since WOTF conducts its contest on a quarterly basis (so it said) they decided to use the term "Honorable Mention" because quarter finalist caused confusion - some people apparently thought it meant they were a finalist for the quarter.
Back in 2002 I sent WOTF a story, which didn't do anything (It was "Dialogue", which was published by RevolutionSF in 2005 and was one of my three HMs in the YBSF that year). My next entry they lost for over a year. They later said a box of mail had been misplaced during a move. Needless to say, I stopped submitting.
Last year, though, at FenCon I attended a panel on WOTF. K.D. Wentworth got me interested and I started submitting again. My entry for the last quarter of 2006 didn't do anything (although the administrator hand-wrote on the form letter 'submit again soon'); this last letter is for the next entry, "Twilight on the Finger Lakes", which I later sent to a magazine called Pedestal. They returned it this week, but I got a "good" rejection; you know, "send more soon".
I got the 2007 SFWA directory in the mail a few days ago, and I see that a few new venues have been qualified as short fiction venues, including Pedestal and also Subterranean, Baen's Universe and Dark Wisdom.
OK, today's video is probably the WORST Star Trek parody even done. I stumbled across this piece of silliness while doing research on South Africa. It's
done by a comic called Caspar DeVries. Of course, it doesn't help that it's in Afrikaans, but I really don't think it would have made sense in any language. DeVries is like a Boer Benny Hill, but even more manic (if'n ya' kin believe that). I understand the AWB once put him on a hit list. No wonder.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The TPA, Fencon, and Metroplis - a grab bag

The Texas Press Association held its annual awards luncheon
Saturday in San Antonio. The annual competition is called the Better Newspaper
Contest. Of course, I didn't go, with the price of gas being what
it is, but when they posted the winners on-line I found I took
third place for News Writing in semi-weekly newspapers. That's
the first personal award I've taken since 2001. Last year my
paper took first place in Community Service, but that was a team
I've been dithering about which story to submit for the Fencon
program book. The deadline is July 15. I have two stories in
mind, but they're so different I am really having a hard time
making a choice. I emailed Tim Miller, the convention chair, and
asked if maybe they'd like to make the choice. He said they'd be
willing to read them both, so I sent them off Sunday night via

OK, here's the YouTube Video of the Day. I found this while screwing around a few days ago. I first saw Metropolis on PBS when I was about 12. It really impressed me - probably to the detriment of my ultimate s-f career, since the story combined equal parts valid sociological extrapolation, s-f hand waving and romantic BS. But it LOOKED great, and this trailer - which was made for the latest digital restoration a few years ago - hits all the high points. It reminds me of the sense of wonder I first felt when I saw the movie so many years ago. So here's it is:

When I was a teenager, I hand copied in pencil the B&W still photo of when Rotwang confronts Frederson, arms upraised, with the robot behind his shoulder, and hung it on the wall of my basement office.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Another story set for publication

I'm always on the lookout for magazines and ezines where I can get my stories printed, especially when they've run the gamut of the major venues. My attitude s pretty much if I can't get much money, at least I'll get some exposure and name recognition.
(I talked about getting exposure when I moderated a panel at ConDFW in February. Fellow panelist Stephen Brust said "exposure is what you die of in the Arctic." Hah-hah. Well, I have a day job, so I get a regular paycheck. With what little money I've made writing fiction, I think I enjoy the recognition more - much more).
In my last post I mentioned a Yahoo group called FictionMags. One of the members, Shelby Vick, runs an ezine called Planetary Stories. I think I've heard of it in the past, but it came up in the group recently. I checked out the guidelines and realized I have a story that's been kicking around a while called "Fermi's Fraternity" that they might like. PS likes stories with an old-fashioned pulp feel, or at least stories that are fun. So I sent "Fermi's" off last Wednesday. Vick got back to me with some suggested changes, and after I made them accepted the story, so it will be published in September.
I battled sinus trouble all last week, and by Friday I was coughing so bad I slept on the couch to give Patricia some peace. I also slept on the couch most of Saturday night. It sounds like a cold but feels like am allergy. I have no idea what I've got. I bought some Benedryl allergy and sinus formulation last week, but it actually seemed to make things worse. It like increased my drainage. I usually take Benedryl cold and sinus. I think I will swing by CVS Monday morning on my way to the county courthouse and go back to that.

OK, here's the video of the day, which was sent to me via YouTube by my brother. I's not a Spalding Gray monologue, but it's still a classic"

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Regarding Roger Elwood

I belong to a Yahoo news group called Fiction Mags, moderated by Paul DiFillipo. Today Robert Silverberg reported that apparently the well-known and rather controversial anthlogist Roger Elwood passed away. Elwood is best known for cranking out so many anthologiess in the 1970s that he essentially crashed the market. Raising his ghost generated a lot of conversation. I weighed in in what was certianly the longest post I've ever made, and since it has some funny anecdotes, I thought I'd repeat part of it here.

"As someone who's s-f consumption over the years has been almost all short stories, I appreciate anthologies and I hunted up many over the years. I've found them in some pretty strange places, too. I found a pristine 1950s copy of "Adventures in Time and Space" used as a book shelf decoration in a used furniture store. The owner was bumfuzzled when I offered to buy the book. I think I gave him a dollar.
That being said, over the years I've picked up and put down most Elwood anthologies I've found. His taste and modus operandi was obviously scattershot; I always could find any worthwhile stories he included in another, better. anthology someplace.
"The only Elwood anthology I ever picked up was "Visions of Tomorrow: Am Interstellar Collection", and that was because it had a Gardner Dozois story I had never read, "The Storm".
"That book also led to a funny incident. It has a stupid, garish cover, with some of demon open-armed in a desert landscape. It obviously was some kind of pre-existing art work that the publisher slapped on the cover. It has nothing to do with anything inside. It's so ugly that I once sat the book down in an armchair and while I was gone my dog growled and attacked the book! I ran back and saved it, but she ate the TOC and the first page of acknowledgments. Now that's a bad cover.
"Before that, I once took the book with me to a school board meeting. As a community newspaper editor, I sometimes have to occupy myself while a board meets in executive session behind closed doors. I will often sit and read a book. One time I took this ugly-ass Elwood book. I was sitting there in the board room, with a few of the school administrators who were also waiting for the board to reconvene, holding the book up chest-high and reading it when I looked over and saw the other people giving me strange looks. I forgot about the cover; they probably thought I was reading a Satanic bible. I put the book down and explained what it was. Since then, I take the cover into consideration when I toss a book in the briefcase.
"Oh, and I agree that Gardner is probably under-rated as an anthologist. He certainly tries to be comprehensive. If you read the honorable mention list in the back of each annual edition, you appreciate how much work he does. He goes through some very small publications and e-zines. I've had eight HMs in the past three editions of his YBSF; six of them were from small e-zines. In two cases, the e-zines were so small I'm the only HM they ever received. I'm amazed he saw the stories in the first place, so he certainly works very hard. He also has good taste and discernment."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Good trend

I don't know if they have done anything different on
how the folks at Locus mail their magazines, but if
they have, it's appreciated.
I subscribed to Locus at the start of the year. I got
the January issue in an envelope - someone obviously
mailed it singly - but after that, in February, March
and April - I got the magazine 5-6 months after
In other words, I'd get it a week or two AFTER the next
month's publication. I got the April issue around May
12 (Locus goes out on the first of each month).
I don't necessarily blame Locus - the U.S. postal
service is a notorious bunch of lazy morons - but the
usefulness of the magazine was certainly diminished. I
mean, I often read notices and stories about activities
and projects AFTER they had happened or the deadline
had passed.
Then last month, in May, I got the May issue just a few
days after I got the April issue, about May 15. I was
surprised. Well, the June issue came this past week,
also. It seems the delivery time has been cut in half.
This time, I actually got some practical use from the
issue. There was a note that Jeff Vandermeer is editing
a steam punk anthology for Tachyon Publications. I
emailed Jeff and asked him if he'd like to take a look
at "A Rocket for the Republic". He said he would,
adding that it was filling fast. I doubt, if I got the
magazine a month from now, he would have still been
It would be nice if this pattern continues. I could
actually use the magazine to help with my writing.
I'm still kinda floating after the great reviews
"Avatar" got. It was a nice ego boo. I've also gotten
stories back from both Sheila Williams and Stanley
Schmidt this week that they said were enjoyable and
they liked - although neither rose to the level of a
sale. Both of them also made suggestions about
something that could be fixed in the story - very
practical suggestions that were helpful.
On another positive note, I've got what I feel are some
of the best story outlines I've ever concocted waiting
to be written up. I may actually getting better at this
with time.
Here's a few story titles, in case you ever read them
in the future:

Written and being tweaked
Go, Dragons, Go!
America, U.S.A.
Asleep with Ghosts

Partially Written
Sooner or Later

Outlines complete
Holley with an "E"
She's Come Together
Sympathy for Salieri
Return to Me.
The Man Who Sold His Soul to His Country
High in the Man's Castle

Still need some work
Valle del Lisis
The Queen of the Lesser Gods
The Last Hitler
Mime Kampf

Thursday, June 07, 2007

By the way

In case you didn't get it, the title of my last post refers to the end of the school year and high school graduations. We had seven K-12 school graduations to cover in two weeks, four K-8 schools, and a number of other programs.

In preparation to writing up some of the stories I've outlined, I went down to the local barber shop this afternooj and asked my old boy barber, Joe Bob Swododa, for a cranial smackdown to stimulate the creative process. Here's a video of the experience.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Pomp and Circumstance

Sorry if anyone has been looking for me here for the past two weeks, but the end of May is a very busy time for me professionally. Being a community newspaper editor, I have a lot of things to cover at the end of the school year. My newspaper comes out twice a week, and this is the only time of tbe year I develop a news backlog, i.e. I actually have more news than I can print each issue.

Obviously, I haven't sat down for a few weeks to write any fiction, but on the other hand, I've been jotting down a lot of notes. As things slow down. I may have a half dozen or so stories hitting the slush piles. I have that many stories in various stages of repair, ranging from complete stories that need rewrites, to drafts written out but not typed (to ease my carpal tunnel syndrome, I will occasionally will write a story out longhand - it helps because I am right-handed, but it's my left wrist that has the worst pains) to stories that need a beginning or end (which I may have come up with during the past few weeks).

I have about a half dozen stories in the slush pile for the next issue of Sentinel S-F, which will be published July 15. I will be making a decision on July 1. The last issue was very well received. Jay Lake was happy for the story I published. If you have a story, you're welcome to submit it at

I'm making plans for Conestoga in Tulsa in July, Archon (NASFIC) in August and FenCon in September. I still have to pick a story for the FenCon book. I need to go update my submission log.

I will NOT be going to ArmadillonCon this year. After Archon I should be taking a week's vacation and making a trip to the East Coast, and I will be coming back that weekend.

After the publication of "Insight" and "It's Wonderful, Life" in Twisted Tongue in May, the only thing I have pending is "My Ugly Little Self", which is also going t be published by Twisted Tongue, in September.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Twisted Tongue, and IROSF

The U.K. magazine Twisted Tongue has come out with its May issue. This is a first for me, because it has TWO of my stories, a short called "Insight" and a flash called "It's Wonderful, Life".

The latest issue of the Internet Review of Science Fiction went up on Wednesday. It features an interview called "The Ones to Watch" about five aspiring writers. The idea is to come back and track their progress once a year. I am one of the five.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Third Issue of Sentinel S-F

The third issue of Sentinel S-F went live on Tuesday. The pro slot goes to Jay Lake, with his fun fantasy "Fire-Heart and Rose-Lips". As usual, I reserve the semi-pro slot for myself with "The League of Dead Nations". David L. Gray gets the newbie slot with "Collateral Damage".

Of course, Jay Lake needs no introduction. Dave is probably best known around regional conventions for doing his "Buzz Blaster" radio plays. He read an earlier version of "Collateral Damage" at Fencon last fall in Dallas, and then he submitted the story to me at ConDFW in February. I'm very pleased with both stories.

A.R. Yngve, a Sentinel S-F fan, was kind enough to take our existing logo and tweak it for a much better appearance. I'm very grateful.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Nice comment

I was ego-googling for fun (certainly not profit) and found one of my stories was mentioned on a Ray Bradbury-themed blog by a fellow named Robert Blevins. The subject was Bradbury stories where the protagonist is a writer.

"I like 'S.S.P.A.M' by Lou Antonelli. It's the story of a discouraged writer who exchanges email messages with a little girl from the future."

I guess he must have read it at Bewildering Stories back in 2003. It was also republished in the BSW anthology.

I posted and thanked him for the vote of confidence and added - not to nit-pick - that the title is actually "S.P.P.A.M."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Another nice piece of news

I got an email from Tim Miller, chairman of Fencon, the Dallas con that is being held in November. They've asked me to submit a story for their program book. This is a first for me. I'm honored, especially since Connie Willis is the GOH.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Wow! Another great review

Tangent online on Tuesday came out with its review of the second issue of Darker Matter, and - wow - they loved "Avatar". This is what Alasdair Stuart wrote:

"Lou Antonelli’s story, "Avatar," begins at the end, decades after a nuclear war. Doc Damon and Professor Ledkins are members of staff at the University of Texakarna, the capital of the new, if heavily damaged, Texas. It’s implied, although never stated outright, that in this world the Cuban Missile Crisis turned into all-out war, and much of America is in ruins. Decades on from the war though, scientists are patiently working to recreate mankind’s knowledge and Damon and Ledkins think they may have a solution to a very big problem indeed. What they find instead manages to not only turn the "post world war III" genre on its head but also to comment on one of the oldest and least interesting SF tropes with a good deal of compassion and warmth.

"Antonelli’s story is hard work, at least at first. The war and the state of the world takes up much of the front end and is presented in a fairly unabashed info dump, albeit one which functions well for the character. That aside, there’s a lot to enjoy here from the peaceful, if ramshackle, University life Ledkins enjoys to the genuinely surprising ending. This reviewer is an unashamed fan of historical enigma fiction and Antonelli marries that with one of the oldest SF tropes in the book to create something new and quietly, intellectually heroic."

Mr. Stuart got everything - how I went out on a tightrope trying to do something new with the old post-Apocalyptic trope, how I went for the usual Antonelli twist ending ("genuinely surprising"), how I dropped the hints about how in this alternate world the Cuban Missile Crisis resulted in WWIII, and how I use the "unabashed" info dump.

This may be the best single review a story of mine has ever gotten. Tangent didn't like "Rocket", too! Nice encouragement.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Very nice review

I do sometimes take great breaks from this goofy blog, because:

1. I hate blogs. They're too much like work - my work, being a journalist.

2. I have a constant battle with carpal tunnel syndrome, and when I'm trying to shed (work) load, it's a logical thing to dump. Besides, I have my own web site, Sentinel S-F.

But I have to admit, this is something to make note of. I got my copy of SF Crowsnest in my email two days ago. It's one of the two monthly s-f newsletters I get (the other is Ansible). I saw a fellow named Rod McDonald reviewed the second issue of Darker Matter, the April issue. He was very positive on the webzine in general, and then said about my story:

"However, my favourite was 'Avatar' by Lou Antonelli. This is a story about Texas by an author from Texas. Only it is set in an alternative reality in the early 21st century, some forty plus years after a nuclear war had ravaged America and presumably the Soviet Union as well. Antonelli is of an age to have been around in the early sixties when everyone more or less expected the probability of a nuclear strike. Being of the same age, I can understand his concerns. The heroes in the story are geriatric guys involved in genetic research, a relevant issue especially with the high mutation rates caused by radiation. This is a worthwhile story and one which you should definitely read!"

Well, I guess he liked it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I Love It When a Plot Comes Together

A few months ago, I wrote down some notes on a story about a chaplain who gets gets an unusual assignment on another planet. I really thought the story was coming together, but it hung up, mainly because I just couldn't come up with a good title.
Yesterday, on the way home from work, the title finally came to me. It struck me as so appropriate I actually stopped the car and scribbled it down on a svarp of paper.
I began writing out a first draft last night on a legal pad, and I finished it tonight, 18 pages long.
I had thought the most economical way to tell the story would be a monologue (it worked for "A Rocket for the Republic") and that's the way I did it. The protagonist comes back from a Joseph Campbellian-like adventure, and he suspects because of unusual conditions he will forget everything that happened, so he blathers out a utube email to a friend, and that's how the story's told,
I like it and you know - I don't want to sound snotty - but really that's all that counts, because in my opinion, every good writer really only writes for his or her self. Sometimes they may want the money. In my case, I want a good story.
OK, as a bonus (since I mentioned YouTube, here's one of my favorite videos I found there.

They don't make videos like that any more!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hmmm... a good rejection

I don't know whether you call it a rejection, but I recently heard from Writers of the Future. "The Silver Dollar Saucer" wasn't a finalist for the last quarter of 2006, but I got the "good" rejection letter, inviting me to submit again, and in fact the contest administrator wrote in, by hand, "send more soon".

I learned this week I've been accepted as a panelist at Archon, which will be the first weekend in August. Because WorldCon this year is overseas (in Japan) this will also be the NASFiC. This will be a good chance to rub elbows with some people I don't see regularly.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Back again

Since my last post I spent some of my free time on a volunteer project, typsetting the quarterly newsletter of the local Boy Scout Council. I was a Scout - and enjoyed it very much - but I've never been an adult leader - mainly probably because I never had any kids. But I recently had the oppportunity to help them with this project. It was a little work, but very satisfying.

Unfortunately, the deadline for the newsletter landed at the same time as the dealine for the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest. I had started a story for the Baen contest, but couldn't finish it on time (by April 9). Oh well, I'm complete it and send it off somewhere else.

"Avatar" has been published at Darker Matter since April 1. Darker Matter has a readers' poll for each story, and it's garnered an average rating of eight out of ten.

"The Amerikaan Way" is also still at Atomjack.

I need to fill out forms and email bios for both Constoga and Fencon right about now.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Back to Aggiecon

OK, let me get back to my recollections from Aggiecon. My third panel on Saturday was on the subject of Literary Collaboration. Beverly Hale was on this one, also, and a graphic artist named Tony Salvaggio, whom I had never met before. Teresa Patterson was the moderator. She showed up a little late, so I began as a pinch hitter and turned it over Teresa.

Maureen McHugh was there, too. I had never met her before - in person. She said she was happy to meet me, and knew me from the internet - specifically the Asimov's discussion forum. She said I had been a "voice of sanity" there (I'm honored).

Each of us had different experiences, so everyone in the audience could apply whatever applied to them. My collaborations with Edward Morris have been very even-handed and reciprocal. Maureen, Teresa and Beverly have all ghost-written or collaborated in shared worlds. Tony's work in graphics is different from all our experiences.

The panel started at 5:15. I was probably back at the hotel by 7:00 p.m. At this point, I was so tired - proably from the lomg drive the night before, plus running around all day - that I was too tired to go to dinner. I actually made a meal from three snacks out the vending machine on the first floor, and was asleep by 8.

Tony's work has been

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Pulp Years of Lou Antonelli

There was a thread on the Asimov's discussion board this week devoted to yours truly. I've copied and pasted it here. I really am kinda honored:
Asimov's Message Board: General Discussion: The Pulp Years of Lou Antonelli
By Okie on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 08:24 pm:

I have enjoyed everything I've read by Lou Antonelli. You can kind of picture him, hunched over an old typewriter, just toiling away.

Then, I just ran across something he wrote in this forum a little over five months ago, in which he mentioned he had written 56 stories in the past four years.

But, what was interesting to me was when he wrote: "I probably would have loved the old pulp magazine days."

Now, we are enjoying the pulp years of Lou Antonelli. May there be many more to come!


By Lou Antonelli on Saturday, March 31, 2007 - 07:04 am:

The blog "No Fear of the Future" a few weeks ago, under the entry "Bring On the Cool Nerds" by Chris Nakashima-Brown, discussed some of the people who were eligible for the Campbell nomination this year, and called me "The heir to the penny a word pulps".

I guess I like that style because I grew up long enough ago that some of those pulp magazines were still around and being thumbed through (I was 12 in 1969). By the time I was reading s-f, the old Ace doubles from the 1950s were being discarded or donated. When I was in sixth grade my classroom had a bunch of old Ace doubles in its library. I thought they were cool!

I don't know what a good definition of "pulp writer" is, but my personal take is that it's someone who's prolific and who values entertainment above morals or message. By that definition, I guess I qualify.

I'm hardly unique in writing often and fast. Joe Lansdale has written 200 short stories in 30 years. Like Joe did when he was young, I don't mind having stories printed in small mags. It helps develop a fan base, and now that Joe's a big writer, he can assemble collections on any topic at the drop of a hat. If I have as much money as Joe does at the same point in my career, I'll be VERY happy.

I's 7 a.m. in East Texas and the rain is COMING DOWN. I live in the northeast corner of the state, bordering Arkansas. Oklahoma is only 20 miles away. BTW, Okie, where are you at???

Lou Antonelli, his own self

By James A. Ritchie on Saturday, March 31, 2007 - 10:24 am:

I've enjoyed everything Lou Antonelli has written, too. And I'm envious as hell of his writing speed, and his writing quality.

By Okie on Saturday, March 31, 2007 - 10:29 am:


Everything I said was intended to be complimentary. I also agree with the things in your reply concerning pulp writing.

I turned 21 in 1969, so I grew up in the late 50s and early 60s where I was reading all the sf mags, indeed just about all American sf coming out at that time.

I'm a huge fan of the old pulp style.

As far as where I am, my smart-ass answer is ... sitting in front of the computer.

For a better answer (maybe only a little better) refer to a thread I started yesterday titled: Where Do You Live? (approximately).

I may e-mail you when CON-estoga gets a little closer. I've never attended but I may take the opportunity to go meet you this year.

I'm going to close by giving you my first total endorsement I've given anyone. I confer upon you the Okie-dokie.


By Lou Antonelli on Saturday, March 31, 2007 - 01:20 pm:

Okie -

I knew everything you said was complimetary - although on the internet, sometimes one say stuff that, without the usual visual cues or tones, can be misintepreted.

Thanks for the Okie-Dokie. I am unworthy of such an honor - but I will acept it. Glad you like my stuff.

Thanks, too, to James. You once said as much in a personal e-mail.

Last weekend I was on a panel at Aggiecon at Texas A&M University in College Station. The subject was "How to Write Short Stories".

I said that I got the writing down by working as a journalist for 30 years. My problems are plot, characters and ideas - just the minor stuff. I've never had an editor tell me a story was badly written.

But there's a drawback - I'm not used to people having an opinion about what I write. If you're a journalist, a story is either accurate or it's not.

Still, thanks for the kind comments. And the webzine Darker Matter has posted its April issue, which includes my story "Avatar".

It's a weird little tale that combines alternate history with secret history. And no, I wasn't smoking any strange green weeds when I wrote it.
Hope you like it. And "The Amerikaan Way" is still on Atomjack.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

More on AggieCon, and another publication

Although I've known and corresponded with Joe Lansdale for a few years now, and have met him a few times at cons, AggieCon was the first time we were ever on panels together.

In fact, we were on two panels back to back Saturday morning. The first, mentioned in my last post, was on Book Collecting at 10 a.m. My next panel of the day was "Pimp Your Book". It was originally slated for 3 p.m., but was moved to 11:15, so it came right afterwards.

In this case, Joe was little off center, because he is so successful and well-read that his experience isn't typical. He doesn't have to tout his own publications because he has an agent and publisher who do that for him. He doesn't have to schedule book signings because he has publishers who will send him off on book tours.

Beverly Hale and Jayme Blaschke were also on this panel, and we, on the other hand, have more in common, and could talk about blogs web pages and such. We talked about how to make contacts on the internet. Beverly and I both have been known to send out old-fashioned news releases. Jayme is a little more familiar with podcasts.

Theresa Patterson also addressed a lot of the same topics, although since she does a lot of collaboration and ghost writing the particulars are different.

After the panel it was lunch time. Jayme was nice enough to treat me to a burrito place I had never heard of, Freebirds. Their large is the size of an artillery shell. We sat on the patio, bullshat and enjoyed the good weather.

I'll go over more from AggieCon in the next post. Meanwhile, I received word that Darker Matter has its April edition on-line. It includes my short story "Avatar", a little piece of strangeness that combines alternative with secrrt history.

With "The Amerikaan Way" at Atomjack, that's two stores in two weeks. So far, 2007 is turning out good.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

AggieCon adventure

Well, I spent last weekend in College Station for AggieCon (No. 38 by number). Last year was the first time I went. Of course, AggieCon is a Texas institution. I know some much older-timers who say it used to be a lot bigger, but it's jyst fine by me.
Last year was the first time I was a regional guest. This year they were nice enough to pick up the tab for my room, and I was on four panels.
I told them I couldn't make any Friday panels, since I had to work. I knocked off at 4 p.m. Friday and was on the way 45 minutes later. Unfortunately, there's no reallu good direct route from this corner of Texas to College Station. It's normally a six hour trip. I took Hwy. 82 from Hooks to New Boston, Hwy. 8 to Corley, Hwy. 67 to Mount Pleasant, Highway 271 to Tyler (the longest single stretch, almost 70 miles), Hwy. 69 to Palestine, Hwy. 79 to Hearne and Hwy. 109 to College Station.
Because of the dark and some convoys, especially between Palestine and Hearne, where the highway was two lanes (the convoys are Mexicans hualing used cars to the border, two by two), it took me EIGHT hours. I got to the Plaza Hotel at the corner of Texas and University at quarter to midnight.
Next morning I staggered into the breakfast bar and right into Joe and Karen Lansdale. I haven't seen Joe in person since the summer of 2004. Joe was in a good mood all weekend; of course, he should be. This weekend he's in Toronto accepting at the Horror Writers Worldcon accepting their Grandmaster Award.
The hotelwas good about shutting us to the Memorial Student Center. I registered and was on a 10 a.m. panel on Book Collecting. This was also the first time I was on a panel with Joe. Other panel members included Bill Crider, Rick Klaw and Allen Porter. I'm really not much of a book collector, so I listened a lot and learner some stuff. I didn't know Klaw has been in the book selling business for 20 years.

OK, that's enough on AggieCon for now. I need to get to my office and work on some subs. Latest News: Atomjack has published my alternate history, "The Amerikaan Way". Go read it at I like what they did with the flag, using the designe of the current South African flag with the stars and stripes (or is it the stars and bars?).

Darker Matter should be publishng "Avatar" on April 1. That's two alternate histories in a week. I dropped copies of "Amerikaan Way" in the mail today to Harry Turtledove, Howard Waldrop and Gardner Dozois. I think it's my best alternate tale yet.

OK, I'll be back in a while with more on AggieCon.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Off to Aggiecon

After I get out of work tomorrow (Friday) I'm driving down to College Station for AggieCon. Last year was the first time I attended, and I enjoyed it. I'm glad to be going back.

I have four panels, with a number of people I've gotten to know in this fiction racket.

I really dont know what "The Art of Collecting" is about, but it's my first panel at 10 a.m. Saturday. Fellow panelist include Mojo Joe Lansdale, Rick Klaw - one of the most friendly con guests I know - Scott Cupp and Bill Crider.

Joe Lansdale is also on the 3 p.m. panel "Pimp Your Book", along with old chum Jayme Blaschke, and Beverly Hale - another person who's always cheerful.

Bev Hale is also on the 5:30 p.m. panel on "Literary Collaboration". Maureen McHugh is on this panel; I've never met her before.

Sunday I'm on a panel at 10 a.m. on "Writing Effective Short Stories". Colleagues include Martha Wells, who is probably the person I've seen the most often at cons. She was at ConDFW - the first con I ever attended - in 2003. I even saw her at Philcon in 2003.

As Jackie Gleason used to say, "And away we go!"

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Another sale

I got some good news this week. Atomjack has bought my story “The Amerikaan Way” and will be publishing it in April. This is my fifth sale so far this year.

Darker Matter and Twisted Tongue (in the U.K. have already weighed in so far. Atomjack is a nice little ezine. I think I’ve adopted an unofficial career goal of being published in 100 different publications. I’m a third of the way there already.

I made a goal for 2007 of moving out some of my backlog. Between these zines and Sentinel S-F, I’ve already committed seven stories. I’m doing this because:

1. Some of these tales just aren’t going to make it in the majors, and
2: I need to write new stuff.

The strategy seems to be working, and I’m beginning to see my inventory dwindle. It’s a good incentive for me to keep after it. During the past four years I’ve been writing, it’s not uncommon for me to have 18-20 stories bouncing between different slushpiles. At end of 2006, I noticed I had so many stories out there that I was effectively blocking myself off from sending perhaps newer and better stories to some places because of the older, and possibly not quite as polished, newer stuff. So I decided on a policy to more aggressively move out the older stories.

For example, “Insight” is my very oldest story, written in the fall of 2002 (not counting “Two Men in a Cave Without a Net”, which I wrote in 1988 and published in January on Sentinel S-F.) I peddled "Insight” off to Twisted Tongue. Howard Waldrop likes to note that he has a well-established reputation of selling stories to the LOWEST possible bidder. I may be giving him a run for his (lack of) money, but writing a lot and often seems to work best for me, so I have a lot of stories to peddle. Chris Nakashima-Brown hit the nail on the head when he posted on the blog “No Fear of the Future” that I was the “heir of the penny a word pulps.” I probably would have done great in the ’30s.

Getting back to “The Amerikaan Way”, it’s alternate history where the POD is that Pegleg Pete Stuyvesant repels the British from seizing New Amsterdam in 1664, and it continues as a Dutch colony until the time of the American Revolution. You can imagine the geographic complications of having the British colonies split by the Mid-Atlantic Dutch colony. The nub of the issue is that the V.S.A, (which is what the nation is later called) develops into the Apartheid regime in the 20th century instead of South Africa. The story’s protagonist is from a democratic and multi-racial South Africa, on a trip to notify his corporate office in New Amsterdam that they are bowing to international sanctions and cutting off trade with the polecat Amerikaan regime. But there’s a lot of skullduggery afoot, and as usual for an Antonelli story, plot twists and irony.

When I visited with him at ConDFW, I told Harry Turtledove that since I studied South African history in college I’ve used some of it in my stories. When it’s published, maybe I’ll send him a copy of “The Amerikaan Way”. I think it’s one of my better alternate histories (or at least my best solo effort, although I think at least a couple I’ve collaborated on with Ed Morris are at least as good, if not better).

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Finale on ConDFW

On Sunday I was fortunate to visit more with Harry Turtledove, both between panels and even in the sitting around in the lobby.

Brad Sinor hosted a Q&A session with Turtledove, and I took the opportunity to ask a question which has been on my mind for years: In "The Guns of the South" the main bad guy is a South African named Rhoodie. I always wondered whether Turtledove used that name because it was in the news because of a RSA government scandal in the 1980s. One of the reasons Prime Minister B.J. Vorster resigned was because it was learned the government had secretly funded a project to purchase and/or influence English-language newspapers in the country. The government official who has run the razzle-dazzle was named Eschel Rhoodie.

Turtledove said he didn't know anything about that, he just wanted a reliably Afrikaner name. Of course, there's always the possibility he had heard the name and dropped in into his mental Rolodex. In another contest during the same Q&A session, he mentioned the problem authors constantly face of "idea pollution". Many s-f readers would be surprised to learn actually how little some authors read, because of that.

I visited with him after the panel. He seemed to take note of my knowledge of the RSA. Later that day, while chatting in the lobby, I mentioned a story idea, adding that I have never written it up because I don't think it would sell anywhere. He encouraged to forge ahead anyway, and dropped an idea for a twist that hadn't crossed my mind.

At 1 p.m. I moderated a panel on "How to Escape from the Slush Pile" in the main programming room with Stephen Brust, Robert Aspirin, Martha Wells and Emma Bull. It was a very informative panel, but some of the experiences and opinions of the panels were directly contradictory. I hope we didn't leave people confused.

For example, we talked a lot about rejection, but Asprin said he's never really had any. I touted the virtues of getting exposure to get your name around, but Brust said exposure is what you die of in the Arctic. I am proud I was able to keep the panel rolling forward and that I prevented any bickering. It dawned on me that maybe one of the reasons I moderate well is because I've served in various boards and clubs over the years (including a school board, library board and animal shelter board). Hey, compared to running a Lions Club meeting in a small town (I am a former Lions Club president), moderating a panel at a s-f panel is a cinch.

The last thing I attended was Mel Tatum's reading, and then I hit the road for home at about 4:30 p.m.

I think things went very well, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Another sale

The new ezine Darker Matter has bought my short story "Avatar" and will publish it in its second issue, which comes out in April. The first issue this month features short stories by David D. Levine, Edward M. Lerner, Bud Sparhawk, Duncan Long, and Ken Brady.
I found out about Darker Matter through a link on Locus on-line. Needless to say, I was impressed by the line-up. The editor, Ben Coppin, seems to off to a great start.
Although Twisted Tongue in the U.K. has already accepted three of my stories for 2007, its next issue in in May, so it looks like Darker Matter will be my first publication for 2007 (notwithstanding, of course, the stories I have published myself at Sentinel S-F)
I got an email rejection this morning from Neo-Opsis for a story I submitted to them in January 2005. Wow! I workshopped that story at a Turkey City in March 2005 and it was published by OG Speculative Fiction as "Berserker" last September.
Back to ConDFW: On Saturday, I had one panel, the Writers of the Future Panel with Linda Donahue, Amy Sisson and K.D. Wentworth. Sissons was the moderator, but Wentworth really led things, since she is the lead editor for the writing side of he contest. She brought a video which she showed on her laptop about WOTF. It was very informative.
I submitted a couple of time when I first began writing four years ago, but quit - mainly after they lost one of my submissions for a year, but I've started again, mostly on the basis of what Wentworth has said at some previous cons. I will keep after it. Under their guidelines, I'm still eligible to compete, since I haven't had three pro sales.
This was the only panel I had at the con that I didn't moderate, which turned out to be a piece of luck. I had some stuff for Harry Turtledove to sign, but both his signings, on Saturday and Sunday, were at the same times as my panels. Since I didn't moderate the WOTF panel, I cut out for a few minutes and stepped outside to get my stuff signed.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Well, I guess I'll take a little time and talk about how much I enjoyed ConDFW in Dallas last weekend. They were very good to me; I had three panels - one each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday - and moderated two of them.
I cut out from work at 2 p.m. and arrived in Dallas in good time for my first panel, which was at 5 p.m. with Mel Tatum on "The Creative Process".
First off, I was amazed that I had nothing to cover over that weekend, Feb. 23-25. With my job as a newspaper editor, I often have to run out on nights and weekend for special events. There wasn't a single thing on my calendar, which saved me the trouble of asking a staff member to sub for me (by contrast, next Sunday afternoon, March 11, I have to cover a beauty pageant).
Another good omen: Driving in from East Texas, I heard on the radio there was a serious traffic jam on the LBJ Loop north of Dallas. I was already concerned about hitting Dallas at rush hour, and when I heard that, I began to get concerned. I thought I might try an alternate route to get to Richardson, which is where the con actually was, but I haven't lived in Dallas for years and I couldn't remember a way.
As it turned out, the wreck and backup was in the eastbound lanes, and I was heading westbound, so I avoided it. If it had been the other way around, I never would have made that first panel.
I think the con heard back from some people who couldn't get in too early on Friday, because when Dan Robb (the programming chairman) originally issued the programming schedule, the panel had four people, but the final version had just me and Mel. Lee Killough was kind enough to sit in, however, so we had a nice lineup. I think there were probably ten people in the audience, which isn't bad for the start of a con, and things went very well.
I visited briefly with GOH Harry Turtledove after the opening ceremonies that evening. He was very genial but seemed tired, I guess, after the long trip from California.
I attended the Yard Dog Road Show that evening for an hour, which was about about as much of that silliness I could take. I guess I was at a disadvatage in the audience (I was sober). This stuff must seem funnier if you're plastered.
One strange thing: Mel Tatum did a skit called the "The Yard Dog Whisperer", a play on Cesar Milan's how "The Dog Whisperer". At one point, in a bit of burlesque on how to really handle a recalcitrant dog, she threw a noose on one (stuffed) dog and hanged him.
When she started to into this piece of business, I wondered how I would take it, since I've had such emotional experience with dogs - from a 13-year old German Shepherd was passed away in my arms from old age to the rescue dog who attacked my wife and left her an amputee with no right index finger.
I got nauseous. I guess that was a purely visceral reaction. I have no idea what it means. I didn't get unwell enough to leave, then.
Before heading to bed I visited a few suites. FenCon Chairman Tim Miller mentioned in the ORAC suite that, since this was the last week coming up for Hugo nominations, they'd appreciate consideration of the FenCon III program book for "Best Related Book" or whatever that category is. I made a note of that and when I got back home after the con I pulled the book out. I forget what a great job they did last year on that program book, and the next day when I mailed in my ballot, I nominated it. I really appreciated the suggesstion, that's a hard category for me to nominate in since I don't read much, if any, s-f related non-fiction.
More later.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Award nomination deadline approaches

Saturday, March 3, is the deadline for nominations for the 2007 Hugo awards. Anyone who was an attending or supporting member of the WorldCon last year (Los Angeles) or is one for this year (Yokahama, Japan) is eligible to make nominations.
As an author whose first professional sale was in 2005, I'm eligible for nomination for the John W. Campbell Award. Here are the rules for that award:
"The John W. Campbell Award is given to the best new science fiction or fantasy writer whose first work of science fiction or fantasy was published in a professional publication in the previous two years. For the 2007 award, which is presented at the World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon), the qualifying work must have been published in 2005 or 2006.
"The Campbell Award is administered by the Worldcon, but the rules for awarding the Campbell are determined by the award sponsor, Dell Magazine. Eligibility rules were changed in 2005.
"The John W. Campbell Award uses the same nomination and voting mechanism as the Hugo, even though the Campbell Award is not a Hugo. To be able to nominate a writer for the 2007 award, you must have either been an attending member of the 2006 Worldcon in Los Angeles or be a supporting or attending member of the 2007 Worldcon in Japan before Jan. 31, 2007.
"Nomination ballots must be received by Midnight (2400 hrs), Pacific Standard Time on Friday, March 3, 2007. "
Since my eligibility is based on the publication of my story "A Rocket for the Republic" in Asimov's Science Fiction, I am taking the opportunity to reprint the story again:


by Lou Antonelli

(Originally published by Asimov's Science Fiction, Sept. 2005)

"Well, I cain’t believe you found me, way out here! I was only joshing when I told the old boys at the feed store you could come out and see me. Damn, you’re determined, ain’t you?
"I know I ain’t got no telephone. At my age, I don’t need no one bothering me, anyhows. Still, I gotta give you credit for coming way on out here. You just doubled the population of Science Hill, or what’s left of it. Which is me.
"Yep, I’m the birthday boy. Done reached a hundred. I guess that’s why you drove all the way out here. Well, I’d be inhospitable if I sent you home without at least visiting with you. We can sit right out here on the porch on this swing seat, just set your dispatch case over there on top the railing.
"What’s that picture in there? Oh, that’s a magazine. Right pretty picture. Is that a rocket ship? You read science fiction, eh? Kinda like Jules Verne and Mr. Wells? Interesting.
"Ah know you came out to talk to some old fool who just happened to reach a hundred years old. Well, Mr. Editor, how about I give you a real story? I’ve never done told anyone about this before, but maybe it’s about damn time.
"Would you believe I rode in a rocket once? Yep, and it wasn’t on TV. No, it was a lot longer ago than that. A lot longer.
"If’n you promise not to interrupt me, I’ll tell you the whole story. I don’t want no questions, because a lot of what I’ll say won’t make any sense until I finish. Agreed? Good.


"I was already an old man when this happened. I was a widower then. I had married late, when I was 20. That was in ’23. We married in Tennessee and came out here with impresario Hayden Edwards in ’28. We had a little one, but she weren’t but a year old when we all came down with Yellow Fever in ’30. I pulled through but my wife and the baby didn't.
"We lived in Nacogdoches, but after that I didn’t feel like keeping the farm up. So I sold it and went to hire myself out. There was talk that ferry men were needed on the Trinity River. Settlers were beginning to make their way up to Dallas. I went to live at the ferry landing on the road between Nacogdoches and Waco.
"One day I went out hunting. When I came back, the other men said Jim Bowie had come through. He was heading towards San Antonio de Bexar, where a gang of Texians were fixin’ to mix it up with the Napoleon of the West. Some of them went with Bowie.
"After he cleaned them all out, Santa Anna began a march, like he was going to clean us all the hell out of the province, too. People got the word and scooted out without their hats and bonnets. It was called the Runaway Scrape. I had holed up at the crossing. I figured someone needed to run the ferry, whether it was for Texians or Mexicans.
"Thing was, I guess that great ol’ Second Napoleon got cocky and Gen. Houston caught him napping with his arm around his yellow rose. That was at San Jacinto Bayou. That’s when Texas became a republic.
"None of the other ferrymen ever came back from the War for Independence. I guess they must have got themselves kilt. I pretty much kept up things with the help of a few hangers-on, and worked my hams raw for a good four years. Then one day a regular damn procession came down the coach road from Nacogdoches.
"There was a fine coach and seven wagons, some of the biggest wagons I had ever seen. This fellow who sounded like a limey said they weighed five to ten tons each. I just burst out laughing and told them there weren’t no way that sorry little ferryboat could haul any of them, and I asked him where the hell he was going. He said he didn’t quite know.
"He was a nice fellow, talked to me right respectful. He said he was a ‘scientist’ It was the first time I had ever heard that word. He said he needed to find a place away from any cities where he could work with his engines and apparatuses.
"I knew a farmstead that had been abandoned since the Runaway Scrape. I told him he didn’t need to go no further, I knew a place he could probably have for naught if he bothered to go back to Nacogdoches and register the deed.
"He looked at my pissant ferry and across the Trinity bottoms and said it sounded like a good idea. I took them to where the farm was.
"The teamsters left all the wagons, and rode back to Louisiana. The gentleman asked me to get up a work crew for a barn raising and I did. I got men from the ferry landing, as well from Corsicana and Tyler, and we went to sawing and pegging the largest barn we could put together. It only took a week.
"He paid everyone in new U.S. silver, and afterwards asked me if I would stay and help him at his labber-ra-tory. He’d always been civil to me, and I couldn’t see hows working for him could be worse than pulling a ferry.
"His name was Mr. Seaton. I think his Christian name was Robert, but I always called him Mr. Seaton. He was a real British gentlemen, always talked to me polite and never cussed at me.
"Mr. Seaton told me he knew the men in England who were working on the steam railroad. There were no railroads in the Republic then.
"He said he thought the railroads would be dirty and hateful, with steel rails running across the land and the steam engines putting out soot and cinders. He had a better idea, he said.
"The first time he said he thought people could travel between cities by air, I thought for sure he meant balloons. But he said he wanted to make a rocket, just like the ones they used in the Army at night, but large enough to hold people, and shoot them between cities.
"Of course, I thought that sounded like the biggest fool idea I ever heard, but when he explained it and made some drawings on paper, I actually began to believe him. He said the Congreve Rockets like they used in the British artillery could travel four miles, and if a rocket was bigger, it could farther. If it was big enough to carry people, it could go hundreds of miles.
"Instead of locomotives running past you putting out soot and cinders, these rockets would just over your head. Nobody would notice them. And they could go from city to city in minutes instead of hours.
"The biggest problem would be a soft landing, but he had designed a set of a silk canopies--I guess you call them parachutes today--that would loose and let the rocket drift down like a leaf. He sounded mighty reasonable.
"He got together his engines and equipment in the East Coast, but he figgered setting off rockets would spook the neighbors.
He thought he’d find the empty space he needed and set up his workshop here in Texas, and as large as the Republic was, it could use his service more than anyone.
"Those wagons he brought all the way from New Orleans, they had all the steel plate and boilers and engines he needed to make his rocket. And I helped him put it all together.
"Mostly, I did a lot of riveting. The winter of ’40 I kept the doors of the barn open because of the heat as I stoked the coal and pounded those rivets. Mr. Seaton was real good with drawing and explaining his drawings and so I was able to rivet and screw everything together, although I didn’t the hell understand half of it.
"He had a steam engine that squeezed air and could make it liquid. I saw him make liquid air and put it in a silvered glass bottle. He said good old gunpowder wouldn’t cut the mustard to shoot such a large rocket. But he said when you mixed the liquid air and alcohol and lit ‘em, it would burn like hell. Did, too, the time he showed me.
"Mr. Seaton never left the place and worked all hours of the day. I would go to Athens every so often and get supplies. He pretty much had brought everything he needed for the rocket ship. There was plenty of wood for his steam engine, and of course I knew how to use a still to make alcohol.
"It took nearly two whole years, but by the spring of ’42 the rocket’s nose was out a hole in the barn’s roof. It had vanes on the bottom propping it up on the ground.
"When he thought we were ready to try the rocket, we moved the equipment to the farmhouse and put it up safe.
"He had a setup in the rocket where he would sit on a seat and turn a wheel that moved the vanes on the bottom, so he could steer as it shot up. He had a second seat in front of a big mica window, maybe six inches around, where I could sit and tell him what I saw. We had belts and buckles and straps all around we could use to tie ourselves down so we wouldn’t go bouncing around like inside a biscuit tin.
"When we were ready for the big test, I have to say, I was scared, but after being with him all that time, I couldn’t let him down. So I just gritted my teeth and prayed Jesus to come down safe.
"Mr. Seaton pumped gallons of alcohol in one side of the rocket and gallons of that freezing liquid air in the other side. Then we climbed a few bales of hay and lashed ourselves inside.
"He had some kind of battery set?up to make the spark to set off the stuff, and when he threw the lever, my heart just about stopped. But we didn’t explode!
"The rocket rumbled and shook. When I looked out the window I didn’t see the barn, but I did see the trees getting smaller. It felt like lead in my chest, and I could hardly keep my eyes open, but I could see the trees like the birds see them, and I knew we were rising up. I looked over to Mr. Seaton and he had a big smile on his face.
"After a few minutes the pain in my chest let up a little, but I saw Mr. Seaton beginning to frown. I saw he couldn’t turn the wheel, and he was cussing himself. That was the only time I ever heard him cuss. I think the problem was the rocket was moving so fast the wind was pushing too hard on those vanes at the end and he couldn’t turn them.
"Finally, he called me, and I unhitched myself and scooted over to his seat. I held on to a strap with one hand and with my free hand helped him to try to turn the wheel.
"I could see Mr. Seaton begin to sweat. After a while he told me to go back to my seat. It seemed like forever, but in a few minutes later he began to turn the wheel. But I didn’t feel no difference in the rocket. And then I noticed my straps were starting to coil around me like a snake!
"The alcohol and liquid air was all burned up, so the roaring sound had let up. But then we both heard a hissing sound. I thought maybe it was something outside, so I looked through the mica window again.
"I couldn’t believe my eyes. It looked like I was looking down at a big billiard ball, but it was blue and fuzzy. It also had brown and white scum all over it.
"The hissing sound got louder. I looked down and saw I was floating two inches above my seat, like a Hindu fakir!
"I looked over to Mr. Seaton, who had his head in his hands.
"Doomed" was all he said.
"Then I realized what had gone wrong. Because he couldn’t steer, we didn’t make a big looping curve like he showed me on a piece of paper once. We were supposed to make a big lazy curve up from Texas and come down in Philadelphia - like a rainbow.
"But instead we shot straight the hell up! That billiard ball down there was the earth, the blue was the ocean and the brown and white scum was the ground and clouds.
"I knew that our doors were tight and the rivets solid, but the air outside must have been thinner than the air on top of the highest Rocky mountain, and so our air was hissing out the seams. I guess it was because our air began to get thin that we started to float around.
"I knew it was curtains for us, so I cleared my throat and told Mr. Seaton I was honored to have been his employee.
"Thank you, James," was all he said.
"I began to get real light?headed and it was hard to breathe, when I saw a bright light in the window. I thought for a second we were heading into the sun, but then the light passed us. A minute later, the rocket jolted like a giant baby had just grabbed a play pretty. Then the levers on the door began to pop. I got a buzzing in my head and just as I passed out I saw the door open.


"Well, as you can imagine, I thought it was the angels come for me, but when I woke up I wiggled my toes and fingers and saw I still was alive, and in the softest feather bed I ever had seen.
"The room was plain, clean and white. I propped myself up on my elbow. Then Mr. Seaton walked in a door I hadn’t noticed along with this strange fellow.
"He was tall and looked like he could be a Chinaman, but his slanted eyes were too large and he was as pale as a ghost. Mr. Seaton was smiling now and he gave me his hand so I could get off the bed. He explained the other fellow and his posse lived on another world, like ours but far away, and they used rockets not only to go between cities but worlds.
"You mean like Mars?" I asked.
Yes, like Mars," he said, "but much farther away."
"He said these fellows had like a lighthouse, I guess, out there between worlds, and the lighthouse keeper had seen us come adrift and sent out a lifeboat rocket ship.
"When I understood this, I turned and bowed with my hands together like I had seen a Chinee do once. The tall fellow bowed, too, and I thought he kinda smiled.
"Mr. Seaton said although his plan for a rocket railroad had come a cropper, he was happier now because of meeting his new friends, and during the days we were in their rocket, he spent almost the whole time talking to them.
"They were civil to me, too. I talked to them, and when they talked back at me, for some reason their voice always seemed to come from a pillbox on their arm. I don’t know why they had to throw their voices.
"I think they knew I didn’t have any book learning Anytime we talked about anything very complicated, I would lose the rabbit I was chasing. Mr. Seaton tried to explain things to me simple?like so I could understand better.
"Sometimes we could look out a window, a real big one, bigger than a window in a New Orleans whore house and see the world turning below us like a gristmill. When the clouds were sparse Mr. Seaton would point out whole countries.
"See that boot? That’s Italy."
"The pale fellows told me I could go wherever I wanted in their rocket ? which was pretty damn big, I tell you.
"One day I went by a door and saw a glow like from a fireplace, ‘cept it was blue instead of red. I thought that was peculiar and I went inside. The blue fire glow was coming out from some filigree on the walls.
"Wasn’t but a minute later a passel of the pale fellows came running in the door and they grabbed me like they was hogs and I was a pumpkin. Mr. Seaton came running in, too.
"The pale fellows tossed me right quick into a bed and stuck needles into me like I was an old woman’s pincushion. In a corner some of them talked to Mr. Seaton, who looked more worried. After all the hoorah died down, Mr. Seaton told me what the problem was.
"These fellows had a special coal that burned blue instead of red.
"Problem was, the blue fire was just as 'hot' as regular fire but you couldn’t feel it! It was just like I had stepped into a furnace, when I went in that room with the blue glow.
"He said that although I didn’t feel anything then, in a few minutes I would have shriveled up like bacon and died.
"Later Mr. Seaton told me the pale fellows realized, after I had the accident with the blue furnace, that maybe it was better I go back home.
"Truth be hold, I was getting homesick myself. Mr. Seaton said he wanted to stay with his new friends. He told me they could set me down right back where we started and soon, Mr. Seaton and I and a few of the pale fellows got into a kind of round lifeboat rocket and floated like a balloon in the middle of the night down to the farm.
"Mr. Seaton shook my hand like a brother and told me where the strongbox was with all his papers. He said I could have everything he left behind as my due for being such a good employee.
"I bounded down the steel gangplank and waved good?bye. They left like a mist in the night. There was a full moon and I found my way to the farmhouse. I lit the whale oil lamp and got ready for bed and slept in real late the next day, almost until nine.


"I thought we had been with the pale fellows in their rocket for weeks, but the windup clock in Mr. Seaton’s room showed we were only gone two days. The barn was still smoldering.
"I was totally flummoxed when I went through Mr. Seaton’s papers. He left me a wealthy man. He had thousands of dollars in banks in New York, Philadelphia and New Orleans. Over the next few years I used the money to hire some help and got the place fixed up better than ever.
"In ’45 news came the U.S. had annexed the Republic, which is what most people wanted all along. A widder woman who lost her husband in an Indian raid caught my eye and I took her as my wife. We had neighbors now, and when some of the people saw the books and tools that Mr. Seaton had left me, they suggested they be used for an academy.
"We set up an academy in the first floor of the new Masonic lodge and hired a schoolmaster. With the academy and all, folks began to calling the settlement Science Hill. I reckon Mr. Seaton would’ve liked that.
"Of course, I never told no one about the rocket and the pale fellows. I never got into details. People heard stories about the barn and assumed Mr. Seaton done blowed himself up. I never told otherwise.
"My wife and I never had no children, which was probably just as well. When the war started, I was 57, but I was strong and healthy and I enlisted. I guess I always felt guilty somehow about missing Jim Bowie when he visited the ferry crossing.
"During the Battle of Chickamauga I took a minie ball clean through the chest. They laid me out to die. But three days later I got off my pallet and started the long walk home.
"Everyone said it was a miracle, but I knew when I was lying there I felt my ribs and muscles knitting up. I figured the doctoring the pale fellows done to me when I had that accident in their rocket must have stuck with me for good somehow.
"I came back to Science Hill, but a lot of other men didn’t so many that the settlement began to die. It happened in many other places. By ’72 the academy had closed and the Masonic Lodge had its charter taken back.
"My wife died in ’85. By then the railroad made it to Henderson County, but it ran through Athens and Eustace and skipped clear of Science Hill. That was the end of it.
"I knew by then, after having a few accidents with a knife or chisel over the years, that I healed up quick. I also saw that I was holding up well.
"Over time, everyone died or moved on, and I was left alone in Science Hill. No one noticed I was just out here by myself. I kept up the farm fine, there was enough for me to do.
"One time, when I was almost a hundred, I was at the feed store in Malakoff getting grain for the chickens. One old boy said, 'You can’t be James Reid, you’re too young.'
"Another old boy said, 'Don’t be ignorant, you’re his son, right?"
"I agreed. Nobody knew any better.
"So over the years, I’ve used a hair dye and chin whiskers to fool people. But in nineteen hundred and forty-two, when I was in Athens, I was buttonholed by an old boy about registering for the draft. Rather than arguing, I filled out the form, straight, birthplace and all, but I put down 1903 instead of 1803.
"I reckon those records went to the historical society after the war, which is why they have me down as a hundred now. I guess it got back to you, Mr. Editor.
"When I buried my second wife I never told her what happened with the rocket and all I said to myself, if I live to be 100, I’ll never tell anyone what happened.
“Well, here I am at 200, so I guess it was about time to come clean, huh?
“You know, I heared the last time I was in town the folks down in Houston are ready to shoot off more rockets like they did 40 years ago. I wonder if they’ll run into Mr. Seaton and them pale fellows. I’d sure like to hitch a ride, and meet Mr. Seaton again, and shake his hand. Maybe I’ll ask ‘em to shoot me up there. Ain’t nothing I ain’t done before.
“Shut your mouth, son, you’ll swallow something.”

Original Fiction - "False Flag" by Lou Antonelli

The school shooting wasn't what it seemed ... Dickey slammed the hatchback shut and handed Marissa her assault rifle.  She looked at...