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
effort.
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
email.

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
publication.
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
open.
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
Resilience

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 plantonelli@valornet.com

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.

Latest reviews

"It’s possible that you haven’t run into the stories of Lou Antonelli. Since 2003, he’s been publishing delightful short tales of alternate history all over the nooks and crannies of the SF world. Thanks to Fantastic Books, we now have 28 of these little gems in one place.

"Many of Antonelli’s stories have an unexpected twist ending. And many of them are what he calls “secret history” stories, which aren’t exactly alternate history—they’re set in our familiar history, but there’s always some element that contemporary observers missed. " - Don Sakers, The Reference Library, Analog July-Aug. 2014

In a spare, swift, convincing narrative style, conveying in a deadpan voice a wide array of sometimes Paranoid suppositions about the world, Antonelli juxtaposes realities with very considerable skill, creating a variety of Alternate Worlds, some of them somewhat resembling the constructions of Howard Waldrop, and making some sharp points about American history, race relations, dreams, and occasional nightmares in which the twentieth century goes wrong. [JC]

---From the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli (debut 6/11 and reviewed by Frank D). Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be.

Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

- Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots

Great White Ship”: A traveler stuck waiting for a flight strikes up a conversation with an old airline employee. The Old Timer tells him a story of a Great White Airship that arrives from a most unusual destination. The story of a craft from an alternate reality and how it got there is only the precursor to the final act.

This is one of my favorite stories from this site. I have a great passion for lighter-than-air craft and their potential as a future means of transport, which opens the story. The author uses this speculation to launch into an engaging tale. As fascinating as the main story line is, the alternate history premise that accompanies it is just as worthwhile. This story was well written and very well thought out. It is well worth the read.

Recommended.

- James Hanzelka, Diabolical Plots

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