Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Moving towards publication


Got my first view of the cover of "Fantastic Texas" last night and it looks great! I'm very, very pleased. Here's the text of the blurb that's going to be used on Amazon:

"From ancient nuclear wars, to the secret of sexual attraction, with stops along the way for Bigfoot, ancient demons, and the truth behind alchemy, the stories in this book will take you on a truly fantastic journey through versions of Texas that were, could never be, and might have been. Steam played a big part in the first rocket launch from Texas, which was about a century earlier than we thought ("A Rocket for the Republic"). An unexpected experiment still running in the abandoned Superconducting Supercollider will introduce you to "The Witch of Waxahachie". And where would you go if global warming forced you out of Dallas? Maybe "Rome, If You Want To"? After that, ask yourself if a flying saucer is worth a silver dollar ("The Silver Dollar Saucer"). The possibilities are limitless in Lou Antonelli's new collection, Fantastic Texas. Born in Massachusetts, Antonelli is a newspaper editor and up-and-coming author of speculative fiction."

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Upcoming story

Got the e-proofs of my next story, "Across the Plains", from Abandoned Towers. I need to get it back to the editor by Jan. 15, so I have some time.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Got a webcam for Christmas and a Skype account, so we were able to spend Christmas visiting live with the relatives, who are scattered between Austin and Chicago this year. I wonder who else I know has a Skype account?

Got some sad news last night, a couple we knew from when we lived in Cedar Hill, Alan and Pat Wilbourn, were killed in a traffic accident on a West Texas highway. Black ice and an 18-wheeler combined for a fatality wreck. Both Patricia and I knew them, and Pat Wilbourn had the catering service that made the cakes for our wedding in 1999.

They were both good Christians and I'm sure they went straight to Heaven, but it's a shock to us and they left behind three grown children. Just reminds you how fleeting life can be.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 in short fiction

Well, I didn't have any super duper pubs this year, but without much effort had eight stories scattered around the place, to wit:

"Acroscaphe" (with Ed Morris) - Planetary Stories - January 2009

"The Silver Dollar Saucer" - Ray Gun Revival - January 2009

"Professor Malakoff's Amazing Ethereal Telegraph" - Science Fiction Trails No. 4 - March 2009

"Good News for the Dead" - M-Brane SF April 2009

"Airy Chick" - Alienskin magazine, June 2009

"Stairway to Heaven" (with Ed Morris) Encounters Nov. 2009

"Smoke Gets In Your Eyes", The Fifth Dimension, Dec. 2009

"Twilight on the Finger Lakes", Bewildering Stories, Dec. 2009

"Professor Malakoff" in Science Fiction Trails certainly got the best reviews.
Quoting Aaron Bradford Starr in Tangent On-line:

"Lou Antonelli’s story, “Professor Malakoff’s Amazing Ethereal Telegraph,” spends its opening building a single coherent setting, carefully working into the narrative both the political preoccupation of post-Civil War Reconstruction, and the growing public awareness of the advances of science. Mr. Antonelli is careful to explain scientific particulars to the reader only when his character, the rather dubiously-named Dr. Eustace K. Malakoff, can find a willing audience.

"And the details of Dr. Malakoff’s “ethereal telegraph” are very interestingly presented, making the so-called Professor less than a complete charlatan, but just enough of a trickster to intrigue. His ability to pull telegraph messages “from the ether,” as he claims, using just the power of his mind, is debunked for the reader before we ever see his show, and yet the potential for plot twists makes the story rumble forward unstoppably. Lou Antonelli has crafted a first-rate piece of historical science-fiction here, where the historical elements and scientific detail dovetail to make a strong, believable whole."

Friday, December 18, 2009

The latest

Not much to report - no new publications, acceptances or rejections. I'm especially busy because of the combination of work and guests, but things are going well.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Latest story

Bewildering Stories No. 365 will be going live tomorrow - Monday - and it features the first part of my story "Twilight on the Finger Lakes".

I got the idea from considering the fact that both O. Henry and Rod Serling died at 50 and both came from New York. What would have happened in an elderly O. Henry had been there to mentor Serling?

Of course, in tribute to both men, I had to set up a twist ending.

Go read. Hope you like it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

News from nowhere

Famed sci-fi author changes up name to make point
COLUMBUS, OHIO (The DisAssociated Press) - In the wake of a protracted public debate over the need for science fiction authors to be paid fairly for their writing, a world-famous author has said he is changing the orthography of his name to make a public point.

From now on, the best-selling author would like his name spelled John $¢a£zi, utilizing monetary symbols...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Black moods and Black Matrix

When I first read John Scalzi's abuse of Black Matrix Publishing earlier this week, the first thing I thought was "Wife must have made him sleep on the couch."

Over the years, I have seen time and time again that when someone blows up at someone else without a reasonable provocation, they're just in a piss-poor mood because of something or someone else that they can't attack directly.

There must be something bothering the guy. There's a certain entertainment value to these kind of blow ups.

Many years ago, when I was in college, I knew a young man who thought I was a loopy, misguided young man because I believed in God and America. He was fascinated that someone who was otherwise intelligent could believe in such superstition.

I was in the unusual position years later of working at the university I attended after my class graduated. One day that fellow came by, escorted by another former student.

He greeted me because I was the only former student from when he was in school. His demeanor was shy and not at all arrogant or dismissive.

I was rather surprised he even wanted to speak to me. As we talked, I was struck by the way the other former student acted.

After a bit, the truth came out - the second former student was escorting the first fellow around campus because he had a nervous breakdown and completely lost his mind. The visit was an attempt to help him recover - taking him to former haunts.

The mocking, self-assured all-knowing guy had suffered a total crackup. Like Icarus, he had flown too close to the sun, and crashed. Little old stupid Lou Antonelli was the same old working grunt, not trendy, smart or handsome. But I was OK.

As the second guy led the first guy off by the hand, I think I got an inkling of what hubris is - I guess.

Them's my thoughts for tonight.

Thoughts on Atomjack


I liked Atomjack, it was a neat little 'zine and published a lot of good fiction. I'll miss it. My story "The Amerikaan Way" was published in Issue Six, back in March 2007.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Aw, heck

Got an email from Adicus Garton at Atomjack. He said "Custodes" was next on his list to buy, but he's decided to close the 'zine.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Help needed here

Bad news from chum Ed Morris. His parents' dryer flamed out and blew up Saturday afternoon. Their house is nearly totalled. "They are both wickedly disabled," says Ed. The mayor of the central Pennsylvania town and many, many other folks have stepped up to the plate. "The insurance will cover it," says Ed, "but this is some serious s***."

Anyone who wants to help, give Ed a shout: dante3000@gmail.com

Here is the address of the story on the local paper's web site:

http://wearecentralpa.com/content/fulltext/news?cid=136802

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Nice mention

Will's Texas Parlor - a website run by Will Howard of Houston - is a casual bibliography on Texas life, history, and literature - books, movies, maps, websites, blogs, government publications, academic or ephemeral papers, databases, journalism, libraries, museums, archives, etc. - mostly recent stuff. It's a filing cabinet or note file of facts, opinions, inquiries, criticism, quandries. It resembles talk between Texana librarians.

He featured my web sites - this one and the one for "Fantastic Texas - on Friday, Nov. 27. Thanks for the mention, Will.

http://texasparlor.blogspot.com/2009/11/fantastic-science-fiction-lou-antonelli.html

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"


The rollicking AH homage to Ernie Kovacs penned by Ed Morris and myself just hit at the December issue of "The Fifth Dimension", one of the magazines published by Sam's Dot Publishing. It's loads of fun:

http://www.samsdotpublishing.com/fifth/cover.htm

Meanwhile, John Scalzi - upon reading about Black Matrix and its miniscule pay rate - went into some kind of meltdown on his blog. You might want to go read:

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2009/12/01/in-the-spirit-of-the-pulps-and-paying-even-less/

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Next story

On Nov. 23 I had an interview with Tom Pauken, chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission. I wrote it up for Monday's newspaper. During the course of the interview, which focused a lot on Pauken's assertion of the need for job creation to really pull us out of the recession, we touched on the subject of shipping jobs overseas.

Something struck a chord, and a few hours later I called Tam Thompson down in Blanco. Back in 2004 she brought a story to a Turkey City Workshop, called "Bangalore Blues," where outsourced jobs is a crucial plot element. I told Tam I had an idea I wanted to try. She emailed me a copy of the story.

I started working on the new version tonight, which I am renaming "Business as Usual". I think adding my strengths to stuff sher knows may really work out,

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tally

"Bindflestiff's Daughter" is the 88th story short story I've written since in seven years. Since "Stairway to Heaven" is my 45th publication, I'm batting .511 lifetime, and that average should go up with my pending publications.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Back from the break

Have taken a small hiatus here for the holiday, but I'm back. Work has been going on in the background. I've sent off five stories in the past few days, and "Bindlestiff's Daughter" is almost complete and I'm sure will be off in the mail next week.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The record

I said in yesterday's post that "Stairway to Heaven" is my first publication in a magazine's debut issue. I went back and checked my bibliography to confirm that information (it's true).

"Berserker" was published in the second issue of OG's Speculative Fiction in Sept. 2006, and "Avatar" was in the second issue of "Darker Matter" in April 2007.
"Good News for the Dead" was in the third issue of M-Brane sf in March of this year.

Thanks go to Ed Morris for knowing about Encounters and getting our joint production published.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Latest publication

Over the years I've had a couple of cases where I had a story published in the second issue of a magazine, but now I can say I've had a story published in a magazine's debut. Encounters, a new magazine by Black Matrix Press, just came out with its first issue, and it contains a collaboration my myself and Ed Morris, "Stairway to Heaven".

This is my 45th short story published in six years.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Whoops

I mis-spoke yesterday when I said the collaboration with Ed Morris, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", will be my last story this year. "Twilight on the Finger Lakes" is scheduled to be published by Bewildering Stories on Dec. 14.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Latest sale


Got word from Ed Morris today that our collaboration, "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes", is being published next month in The Fifth Dimension, one of the magazines under Sam's Dot publishing.

This is a story that I wrote up first and then Ed came on board. He finished it up with snap. We both greatly admire Ernie Kovacs; this is sort of an alternate history homage to the great comic.

J. Alan Erwine is the editor of The Fifth Dimension. It's most recent issue in September features fiction by Matthew Bey - a fellow Texas author - and poetry by Bruce Boston.

This will be my 45th publication, and my sixth - and last - story in 2009.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

More on Bindlestiff

Got to the end of "Bindlestiff's Daughter", clocked in at 5,800 words. Going to add some color and details, but I'm sure the story will contract in the edit.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Latest story

After a day's break I got motivated to start to write up a fantasy story idea, and in a couple of days I've written almost 5,000 words of "Bindlestiff's Daughter". It's kinda like "The Witch of Waxahachie" in that its characters go between a fantasy/magic and "real" world, but in this case, it starts in the fantasy world, and the protag is a young lady.

I'm pleased at the plot, and I think I have a good ending. Bindlestiff's daughter may be the fullest female character I've ever written.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hiatus

After the latest burst of writing on "The Dagger Unsheath'd", I had to take some time off from the keyboard. My carpal tunnel flared up, and I've had to spend some time doctoring it, and not writing to give my wrist a rest. Otherwise, no returns or rejections during the past week, which is kinda strange.

Last weekend I spent a couple of days stripping rust from an old car I bought at an auto auction, and I laid down some primer and paint. All that work on Sunday and Monday probably contributed to my distress. This is the 1982 Chevy Celebrity I bought for $100 and that I have been driving to work every day. Nice old car, and I got $100 in salvage for my old Ford Taurus station wagon. Cheap drives.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Next up

Took a first step a few weeks ago towards an alternate history where the American Civil War doesn't break out until now - 2009. Originally had 1,600 words, got back to it last night, added another 2,000 words. It's called "The Dagger Unsheath'd".

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Ones to Watch, Music for Four Hands

The third annual installment of "The Ones to Watch" feature has been posted in the November issue of the Internet Review of Science Fiction. This is a little later than in previous years, but Adrian had some things come up that delayed getting it in there. Still, it's an interesting project. One of the authors who was part of it the first year dropped out; on the other hand, Pat Rothfuss is a major published author now and at 100% of his goals. That leaves us three - me, Linda Donahue and Jennifer Pelland - in the middle there. I guess we're doing pretty good, compared to so many people out there, but at least in my case it's not a big deal - I enjoy my day job. I really don't think I'll hit my stride as a fiction writer until I get too old to chase fire engines any more and have to retire as a journalist. Then I'll sit home and dream...

Changing subjects, finally had a free night to sit and look over the file for the chapbook, "Music for Four Hands", put together by Ed Morris. It features the four of our collaborations that have been published, or are about to be published: "Eva", "Acroscaphe". "Off the Hook" and "Stairway to Heaven". I wrote up my bio and my part of the introduction, and shot it back to Ed. Looks great.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Satisfaction

"Pirates of the Ozarks" is done, final edit made it tighten 300 words - a good sign. Came in at 4,640 words. It is going out in tomorrow's mail. This is the 86th short story I've written since 2002.

Out loud

I read the latest version of "Pirates of the Ozarks" to Patricia last night. She said it was good, although she's unhappy that Natchez is one of the cities cited as being destroyed in the Great Inundation of 1812 (that's where we honeymooned) - but it's later rebuilt on the barrier island that survives at its old location.

Coincidentally, a report coming out today in the journal "Nature" reports that recent tremors which have occurred in the area of the New Madrid fault are not precursors of a pending quake, but instead aftershocks of the giant quake of 1812.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

As soon as I speak

As soon as I post that I can't electronically sign my contract, I get some advice, try again, ane get it done, so it's a done deed.

"Dispatches from the Troubles"

Got a contract via email for my novellette, "Dispatches from The Troubles", which is being publiched in GUD (Greatest Uncommon Denominator) in Spring 2010. They're using some kind of electronic contract signing software, and it's not opening up the right buttons in my email. Oh, well, we'll muddle through.

"Pirates of the Ozarks" should be ready for sending out by this weekend

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Update on "Pirates"

Doing some final tweaks and edits on "Pirates of the Ozarks". It's staying under 5,000 words - just - which is a cutoff for a number of magazines. It seems to be going well.

No rejections recently, I must have about 15 stories bouncing around different slush piles.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Pirates ready to set sail

After a few good days of writing the first draft of "Pirates of the Ozarks" is finished. It came in under 5,000 words. I expect it will shrink, as should be expected, during final editing.

The local community college showed "Bubba Ho-Tep" Thursday as part of a month-long film series done as a joint project of the Language and Humanities Department. Mojo Joe came to the town for the day. He spoke to students at the college - in a creative writing class - and then at the film showing that evening.

The students applauded at the end of the movie. I think it all turned out great. I wrote a story about it for the Sunday paper.

Never told Joe "Pirates" has a character named "Captain Lansdell" who grew up in the small coastal fishing village of Nacogdoches in Eastern Tejas before setting off for a life of aquatic brigandage on the Great Inland Sea.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pirates

Still writing "Pirates of the Ozarks", up to 3,600 words

Ed Morris sent along first draft of a chapbook featuring four of our collaborations. Going to go over it. Looks like a lot of fun.

Monday, October 26, 2009

It goes on and one and on...

More rain. It rained all night and past mid-day. The county judge this morning (I write up the county commissioners' meeting for the newspaper) said he is writing the governor and asking for a disaster declaration for the county. The individual commissioners reported (they're in charges of public works in their parts of the county) that they have many damaged and washed out roads.

On the genre front, got an invite to submit to an annual anthology. The editor liked something he read in "The Silver Dollar Saucer" and got in touch with me. It deadlines next March. I'll see what I can write up.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Alien

The local community college Humanities Department is having another month-long film series. Back in April it had a science fiction theme, and I spoke when they showed "Fahrenheit 451". This month the theme is horror.

Since they were showing "Alien" on Oct. 22, I volunteered again to make some petinent comments. The attendance was much lower than expected, but we've been having this Texas monsoon weather and a lot of students probably didn't want to go out.

The series ends with a showing next Thursday of "Bubba Ho-tep" and Joe Lansdale is coming to town. This outta be good. The college is taking us both out for lunch Thursday, and I plan to write up a story for ther entertainmemt page of next Sunday's paper.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pirates (cont.)

Still working on the story, only up to 2,800 words but I've been tightening up the story and straightening out some narrative kinks. Again, I'm kinda enjoying this one.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pirates sail on

Returned to "Pirates of the Ozarks" this evening, up to 2,500 words, but it's all been in fleshing out and improving portions already written - actually didn't add anything to the end.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Back to the Pirates

Got back to "Pirates of the Ozarks" tonight, now past the 2,000 word mark. Lots of fun!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Around and about

The sun came out Friday - pretty much startled everybody. It has been rainy and overcast for ever a week now, and I'd forgotten what a sunny day looked like.

Good thing is the garage dried up on its own. After it was flooded Tuesday, I assumed I'd have to remove water from the floor, but it dried up on its own. The last time the garage flooded that wasn't the case, but I guess this time the humidity dropped and it evaporated. We'll wait and see if the dryboard mildews, but since it has been cleaned at least twice earlier, there must be some residual bleach on the walls.

Hope to get caught up on submissions and get back to writing, but I have to spend some time cleaning around the house, especially all the mud that got tracked in this week.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thanks, but no thanks

Gee, mentioning SoonerCon... got an email today inviting me to be a guest in 2010. Already replied, in the negative. Sorry folks, I'm staying out of OKC for a while.

Got the contract in the mail today from David Riley for the publication of "A Djinn for General Houston" in Issue No. 5 of Science Fiction Trails next spring. Already signed a copy and stuck it in the mailbox. Glad to be back for a second year. "Professor Malakoff" got great reviews.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oh, and by the way

On Monday - my day off - I drove 450 miles round trip to Henryetta, Oklahoma, where my old Ford Taurus station wagon has been sitting since the transmission melted down while I was going to SoonerCon.

I cleaned out my personal effects. An old boy at the garage said he'd give me $100 for the car, but we couldn't get the title transferred because it was a legal holiday. I left him the title anyway, and told him to mail me the money. There was no way I am going to make that trip again.

I pretty much figure I'll never see the money, but I need to move on.

It was a good little car. I was proud that - after sitting there for four months - I turned the key and it started right up.

Not had a chance to get back to "Pirates" - to much cleanup at home in the wake of the monsoons.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Afraid this would happen

A few years ago I read, in an article about the potential effects of global warming, that Texas would stand to become wetter because of the increased evaporation from the Gulf of Mexico. In my story "The Rocket Powered Cat" I mentioned that the near-future Dallas had a pseudo-tropical humid climate, with a new growth forest growing up between it and Fort Worth.

Although the change hasn't affected other parts of Texas, here in East Texas it's kicked in. We've had four days this year of between four and eight inches of rain in six hours. We had almost six inches Tuesday. The garage flooded out for the fourth time this year (it has never done that before). Our house is on a hill, but the thunderstorms are so heavy the water simply can't run off fast enough.

The community infrastructure is beginning to crumble. There were 60 road closures yesterday in the county. A number of bridges and culverts have washed out. It's becoming hard to keep phone and cable lines in service. Texas doesn't design things for a monsoon climate.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chicken Soup for the Cold

Made and ate two cans of chicken soup today. It does seem to help with the cold and flu symptoms. No fiction writing today, spent some useful time doing chores around the house.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Getting started

Got a start on "Pirates of the Ozarks" on Wednesday, have 1,300 words so far. Been trying to ward off the flu. somewhat unsuccessfully. I got caught in a cold rain Friday and last night was so weak I slept 13 hours. But I may have turned the corner.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Another acceptance

I was happy last year to send "Professor Malakoff's Amazing Ethereal Telegraph" to David Riley for Issue No. 4 of Science Fiction Trails. He liked the story and it was published this spring.

I sent him another story for Issue No. 5, "A Djinn for General Houston". He says he likes that one, too, and it will be in Issue No, 5 next spring.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Satisfaction

I've had a story title bouncing around my head for a few years, "Pirates of the Ozarks", but I've never been happy with any outlines I've come up with. Today, pretty much in a flash, the solution came to me. The title instead will be "Concluding Report of the Successful Suppression of the Pirates of the Ozarks".

Ir rained all last night, and the place is soaked again. So much for the Sunbelt.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Anniversaries

By some reckonings, today is the 25th anniversary of the publication of "Neuromancer". Never read the book.

By more reliable accounts, tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the debut of "The Twilight Zone". Now there's an anthology with a sense of wonder.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mojo Joe is coming

Back in April, the Humanities program at Northeast Texas Community College (NTCC) here in Mount Pleasant held a film program on four consecutive Thursdays. The science fiction films were offered as part of an extra credit program. It was a very successful project. I helped by introducing and offering what I knew about "Fahrenheit 451", which was the program April 16.

They are doing it again in October, this time with horror films. I will be doing the honors for "Alien" on Oct. 22. East Texas's own Joe Lansdale will be here the final week, on Oct. 29, for a showing of his own "Bubba Ho-Tep".

I was the one who suggested Mojo Joe back in April; I'm glad they asked him and I'm glad he's coming. I've also invited Joe for dinner; I plan to bake a lasagna. He says he'll be coming with daughter Kasey

Monday, September 28, 2009

Back in the groove

Sat down and got back in the swing of things last night with the fiction writing, banged out a little 700-word flash. I had an idea that worked out to just that length, and I think I said as much as needed to be said. Nice way to get back in the saddle. I don't think I've written anything original since before ArmadillonCon.

Had the day off, spent time doing a few chores around the house. While puttering in the storage shed I found the original of my father's discharge from the Italian Army in 1952. It includes vital information on his birth.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sweet 16

Dropped another two stories into slush piles today, one to Not One of Us (which I have subbed before) and The Future Fire (which I haven't). The Future Fire is planning a Feminist-themed issue, and I thought my story "Like Mother" might be a fit.

That brings the total number of stories in slush piles currently at 16, one of my higher numbers of late.

Nearing the goal post

The latest word is that "Fantastic Texas" is among the next four books to be prepared by Wilder Publications, so hopefully we should have a release date in a few weeks.

Bought a second car recently, a 1983 Chevrolet Celebrity in an auction that was seized by a local sheriff's department. Sales price: $100. Got a new battery and a tune-up, and it's inspected and running on the road. At its age I won't drive it long distances, but I've used it around town and began driving it to and from work. Total cost, including registration and new title: $536.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

More pubs

Bewildering Stories will be publishing my story "Twilight on the Finger Lakes" on Dec. 14. I don't think I've sent them a story in about three or four years, but I thought this one might be a good match. It's an alternate history where O. Henry lives long enough to mentor a young Rod Serling, who lives long enough to mentor another author (In reality, both Henry and Serling died at anout 50).

Thanks to Ed Morris for successfully peddling one of our collaborations to a new outfit, Black Matrix Publishing. They will be publishing "Stairway to Heaven" in a magazine called Encounters in January 2010. This is a story where I did the first draft and then Ed came in.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Ones to Watch (yet again)

Adrian Simmons worked on the third annual installment of The Ones to Watch feature this past spring, but it hasn't been printed yet this year (it was printed during the spring of 2007 and 2008). A combination of factors have led to the delay.

He says it should finally run in IROSF in a month or two, and sent out the questions again, in case the participants wanted to revise them. I didn't bother to reference my previous answers, I just wrote up new ones from scratch.

Although I enjoy writing the s-f and fantasy, and I enjoy if other people like my stuff, I really feel I don't take it as seriously as a lot of my colleagues. If I had a forced choice, between working as a journalist and a fiction writer, I'd drop the fiction writing in a heartbeat. Maybe my opinion will change as I improve as a writer; honestly, I think I'm a good writer with great moments and stretches, but I'm not a consistently great writer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More from FenCon


That photo of Howard and myself a couple of posts ago was taken by chum Keith West, like I said, after Howard’s FenCon reading Sunday. I thought it would be nice since my collection “Fantastic Texas” is going to be published soon, and Howard wrote the intro – a photo of us together at the time.
That is NOT Howard Waldrop in the photo with today’s post, that’s Rhonda Eudaly Simpson, as a Redhead of the Apocalypse, at the entrance to the Dealer’s Room. This was an interesting moment; that little girl and her mom had just walked in, and when the kiddo saw Rhonda – bunny slippers, scythe, and all – she jumped back and up against mommy, whom I think you can tell was a bit startled by the effect.
A bystander said, “Rhonda, you scared the kid!”
I said, “Well, Rhonda, you’d scare me!”

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Distractions

Interesting complications at home. To start: It rained all last week.

All week.

Never stopped.

Not a thunderstorm. A steady pelting rain.

Things got humid and damp. Inside the house. Inside the car. Everywhere.

Even though our house is on a hill, the ground became saturated. Thursday one of the two outdoor a/c units died. Ants had swarmed it trying to find higher ground, and it short-circuited.

Repairman cleaned out the ants.

Yesterday we realized the carpets in the guest bedrooms were wet. The drain for the a/c unit in the wall was clogged.

I don't know if the two things are related, but we will have to call a plumber for the drain.

Needless to say, no writing done recently.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back from FenCon

I had a great time at FenCon this weekend. Here is a photo of a highlight, me and Howard Waldrop after Howard had his reading Sunday afternoon.

My panel schedule was very accommodating of my work schedule. My panels Friday and Saturday were in the evening, so I could work during the day as per normal. That required that Friday I drive into Dallas, attend panels, and then drive back to Mount Pleasant, but it wasn't so bad.

My first panel at 9 p.m. Friday, on Femme Fatales, gave me the opportunity to meet GOH Lois McMaster Bujold. Old chum Brad Sinor was on that one, along with Julia Mandala and Melanie Fletcher.

Right afterwards at 10 p.m. came the panel on Plan 9 and Bad Movies. This was probably the most fun, for the panelists as well as the audience. I was the moderator, but Keith Candido (the artist GOH), Lee Martinez and Teddy Harvia provided a lot of the spark.

I drove back to Mount Pleasant (arriving at 1:30 a.m.) went to work Saturday and dove back out in time to make the 7 p.m. panel on Southern Fandom, moderated by Warren Buff, the Fan GOH. It gave me an opportunity to meet Alan Jackson. I was joined by old chum Lee Martindale.

Spent time visiting in the bar and in a few suites, and drove out to Oak Cliff to crash with mother-in-law. Got a good night's sleep.

Walked into the hotel Sunday and ran right into Howard in the bar; we were shortly joined by Alan Jackson. Now that was a conversation!

Attended Howard's reading at 1 p.m. He read excerpts from "The Moon World". It was tons of fun, and it was great to see Howard doing and feeling so well, then as well as throughout the convention.

Panel at 2 p.m. was on Self Promotion. Picked up a lot of good tips from Selena Rosen, Rachel Caine, Rie Rose, Shanna Swendson and Pat Blair. Attendance was still very good, although the con was winding down. In fact, all the panels were well attended.

Pat Blair is a relative newcomer who retired as a journalist; journalism is not that common a background for a s-f and/or fantasy writer.

Drove back home, arrived in Mount Pleasant at 6 p.m. Got another good night's sleep, and was back at work today.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Getting ready for Fencon

This coming weekend, just clearing the decks.

Weather has been miserable the past two days, a steady soaking rain. Today was the first day I pulled on a cardigan; I think I survived another Texas summer.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My schedule for FenCon

FenCon is next weekend in Dallas, and I got my line-up of panels a few days ago. The panels are very accommodating of my work schedule - my sessions Friday and Saturday are at night, so I can keep my regular routine at work. I will leave work Friday, head into Dallas, drive back lat that night, and then head back after work Saturday. I will stay overnight Saturday at my mother-in-law's - maybe Patricia will come with me - and I will be back in Mount Pleasant Sunday evening.

Here is my line-up:

Friday 9 p.m. "I'm Not Bad,I'm Just Written that Way: The Femme Fatale in Literature".

This will be in the Trinity III room, moderated by Julie Mandala. Other panelists will include Brad Sinor, Lois McMaster Bujold, Mark Finn and Melanie Fletcher.

Friday 10 p.m. "Plan Nine from Outer Space and 50 Years of Bad Movies."

This will be in the Addison Lecture Hall; I'm the moderator. I will be joined by A. Lee Martinez, Keith Candidio, Caroline Fulbright and Teddy Harvia.

Saturday 7 p.m. "Southern Fandom".

This will be in Trinity III, moderated by Warren Buff. Other panelists will be Allan Jackson, Lee Martindale, A. Jackson and T. Morris.

Sunday 2 p.m. "Self-Promotion for Writers".

This will be in the Addison Lecture Hall, moderated by Shanna Swendson. Other panelists will be Rachel Caine, Selena Rosen, Rie Sheridan Rose and P. Blair.

They gave me a 10 a.m. slot Saturday for a reading, but I'll skip that; otherwise I'd take a day off from work for that one thing.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Collaborative efforts

Because of recovering from this bout of carpal tunnel, I've not done any writing for a few weeks. I have, however, invested some time working on genre-related chores.

Ed Morris and I have collaborated on a few stories - two which have seen the light of day, "Off the Hook" which was published in Dark Recesses in Dec. 2007, and "Acroscaphe" which was published in Planetary Stories in Dec. 2008. There's another three we've worked on together, but I haven't had luck so far, so I mailed Ed my sheets out of my submissions log and turned them over for his fresh input.

Of these five stories, "Off the Hook" is the only one where Ed started and I finished; in these other cases, the first draft was mine, which is why I took the lead in submitting.

I expect Ed will bring a fresh perspective; I think some of these stories have some real potential, especially "Uncle Gumball Saves the World".

"Off the Hook" I recall as a picture perfect collaboration; Ed had a good central idea; I took a look, saw things he didn't, and slapped it all into shape. It's one of the stories I'm the most proud of.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Good news

Looks like I've finally recovered from that pinched nerve in my left hand. Adding plain aspirin to the anti-inflammatory drug I was taking seemed to have done the trick. My left forefinger feels almost normal - doesn't hurt any more, and I have almost 100 percent mobility back.

Being a two-finger typist didn't help the problem, and also - well, you've heard the expression about sticking out like a sore thumb? While the finger was numb, it got banged and jammed a few times because of being out of alignment with the other fingers. Something as simple as grabbing the steering wheel of the car became painful when you smash your finger into the wheel as the rest of your hand glides by.

I was able to keep up with work at the office, but I haven't done any writing at home recently.

I have to work some Monday to get a paper out on the streets, but the office is closed for business and we'll go home as soon as the presses roll, so I'll have most of the day off.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Slow recovery

Still slowly recovering from aggravating the carpal tunnel. No writing going on. I'm wondering whether I suffered permanent nerve damage to my left index finger.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Half dozen off

Today was a day from the real job, and before I launch into new projects I decided to take some time and get some stories back into circulation. Went pretty good, sent off a half dozen by mail, email and submission forms. That means I have 14 stories in various slush piles now.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Still mending

I'm getting better after last week's physical problems, but not felt ambitious enough to get back to writing. Things do seem on the upswing, though, I;m feeling pretty good.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Recovering

I've been off the net for a few days. Monday morning I woke up to find that I pinched a nerve in my elbow while I slept, and my entire lower left arm was numb for a few hours. What was worse is that I have carpal tunnel, and the combination of the pinched nerve in the arm and the carpal tunnel in my wrist completely deadened my left forefinger, to the degree that it curled up and I couldn't straighten it. This is a real problem if you only type with two fingers, like I do.

I got through the day at work, but I was miserable. I started taking anti-inflammatory medicine Monday night, and things began to improve. Tuesday I was almost back to normal, but the whole incident had aggravated my carpal tunnel. I spent last night watching TV with cold compresses on my left wrist.

Today I seem to have recovered. Just one thing after another.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Kind of in a slump since Armadillocon

I've had to deal with a backlog of chores after taking the time off, but I'm getting caught up, and I'm also organizing my notes for the next outburst of short fiction. There are times when I come off a writing hiatus and write three or four stories at a quick pace, maybe in a month.

This is the time of the year when my allergies are the worst. Two years ago, due to exhaustion and inattention, they exploded into an inner-ear infection that sent me to the emergency room while attending NASFIC. Last year, I kept better control pf things, but the fluid on the ear got to the point where a boil developed externally.

This year has been less severe, although by Monday there was so much pressure on my ears they felt like they were bleeding. There have been times in the past when I have so much drainage down my Eustachian Tube at night while I sleep that my wife can hear the dripping. This year hasn't been that bad; but I have to keep constantly after it, with Claritin, nose spray, and - for immediate relief - cough drops.

We've also had an especially wet summer, so that probably also helped keep the schmutz down.

Oh, when my ears get congested my hearing suffers, but I can still hear. Thankfully I never develop tinnitus. I'm hardly alone in having these allergies and effects in East Texas; in fact, the speaker at a luncheon meeting of a senior citizens' group here in Mount Pleasant talked about the subject a few months ago.

I didn't realize that some senior citizens who move to East Texas from other parts of the countries don't realize they get fluid on the ear from the allergens, and they assume they are just getting geriatric deafness.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Penny for Your Thoughts

People who know me may also know that I’m a coin collector, and I’ve developed a habit as a result of buying lots and rolls (and having excess coins) of offering “A Penny for Your Thoughts” when someone is especially helpful or insightful to me. In these cases, I always hand out Indian Head Cents. (Very rarely, when someone has been a real jackass, I’ll give them “My Two Cents’ Worth” and mail them a pair of old Lincoln Wheat Cents, but this is extremely uncommon.)

I handed out ten Indian Head Pennies at ArmadilloCon to a number of first-time recipients: Bill Ledbetter, Adrian Simmons, Tam Thompson, Scott Cup, Don Webb, Maureen McHugh, Joe Lansdale and James Hogan were all recipients. I tossed one in the fountain in the courtyard. I also gave one to the clerk in the gift shop. I caught up with Don Webb there, and when she saw the penny she was so fascinated I gave her one of her own.

These were all 1903 cents, btw, like the one shown in this post (not terribly good quality). Then again, I'm sure people don't expect me to hand out proof sets.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Visits at 'DilloCon

Like most people, I came away from Armadillocon bemoaning the briefness of many conversations. There's just so many people to see, you just don't have enough time.

One person I was happy to meet, for the first time, was John DeNardo, the fellow who runs the SF Signal web site. He was just up for Saturday, and we chatted for a while in the lobby. I told him that his web site is one of the three news web sites I visit every day (the others being SF Scope and Locus). I commended him for a job well done.

Doug Potter is another person I was happy to meet for the first time. He's an old friend of Howard's. I guess we've never been on any panels together because he is an artist. Really friendly; he came with us Saturday night when we ate dinner at Fuddruckers.

I met Bill Ledbetter and tickled the pink out of him when I told him I tuckerized him in my upcoming novelette, "Dispatches from the Troubles," which is going to be published by GUD next spring. Guillermo "Bill" Ledbetter is the head of the American Irish Republic state police.

Bill asked, "Ooh, do I get blown up?" Which was funny, because the character actually does get blowed up by a roadside bomb. Bill said, "I always wanted to get buried in a bucket!"

Saw Steve Utley for a while, and served on a panel with him. It was only the second time we've visited; I saw him for the first time at last year's DilloCon.

I attended Maureen McHugh's reading and talked with her a bit. Had nice visits with Adrian Simmons and Tam Thompson (I don't know whether I've seen Tam since a Turkey City Workshop in 2005). Visited with James Hogan after our panel Saturday night - another all-too-short exchange.

Talked to Elizabeth Moon in the con suite. Had another short chat with Scott Cup. Tim Miller was there; I'm looking forward to FenCon next month.

Chatted more extensively with the usual suspects - Howard, Joe Lansdale, Jayme Blaschke.

Brad Denton only was able to stop by on Sunday. I mentioned again how impressed I was that "Sergeant Chip" seems to be on the way of becoming a classic. I had telephoned him after the "Mind Meld" feature ran on SF Signal because two of us had cited "Chip" as a memorable story.

Chatting in the lobby with Denton and a cluster of people led to one of the funniest exchanges of the con. I told Brad I was always impressed how well-written the story was; it was obvious how much work went into the story. Brad confirmed that. I said that - with my background in journalism - I get bored with a story after three hours.

I turned to Howard and said, "Now Howard, here, he works on a story for 20 years."

Jayme Blaschke says, "Howard thinks about a story for 20 years."

We all laugh, and Howard says, "And then I start sharpening my quill," making the appropriate gesture. It was pretty funny.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Report from ArmadilloCon

The bus left Mount Pleasant at 7:40 p.m. Friday, and - after a change in Dallas - I got to Austin at 2:40 a.m. A short cab trip to the hotel ($4.25 - I'm not sure the cabby was happy about such a small fare) and I woke my room mate Keith West up. My first panel wasn't until 11 a.m., so I had time for some sleep. We caught breakfast in the hotel.

The first panel was "Using Softer Sciences in Genre Fiction", with Steve Utley as moderator. It seemed to go well, and was a good opportunity to visit with Steve, who I saw for the last and first time as last year's con.

I thought the panel at 1 p.m. on "Short Fiction" was very helpful to the audience. Don Webb, Carrie Richerson, Alexis Glynn Latner, J.K. Cheney, Mikal Trimm and I all had useful insights and stories to tell.

The panel at 4 p.m. on "Texas" was, I think, a highlight of the convention. Given the subject, Joe Lansdale was the right guy to moderate it. Elizabeth Moon, Scott Cupp and Neal Barrett all had interesting stories to tell - Howard was a bit subdued, I thought. Joe pointed out that some Texas writers are really Yankee transplants, but I pointed out that us transplants are a big part of Texas now, also, and I matched his grandparents coming across the prairie in a covered wagon with my chugging along I-30 in a '74 Gremlin back in 1985.

I had promised Howard I would buy him dinner for writing the intro for my book, and we had a bunch of us go to Fuddruckers at 6 (it was within walking distance); me, Howard, Keith, K.D. Wentworth and Doug Potter. Howard seemed to be in good health - so much better than the same time as last year - and he really seemed to enjoy himself; a number of people commented on how happy he seemed at Fuddruckers.

My reading was at 8:30, and I had three amigos - Bill Ledbetter, Adrian Simmons and Tam Thompson - there In my rush to leave town I had forgotten to run off an unpublished story, so I read "The Cast Iron Dybbuk" from ASIM No. 19. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Afterwards, I caught the last half of the "Fireside Chat", which featured - among others - James P. Hogan and Howard. Hogan told a joke that struck me so funny I laughed until I fell out of my chair.

Hogan chaired my final panel of the day, "Is Hard Science Fiction Getting Harder to Write". By 10 p.m. the panelists were beginning to fade, but I think we did well by the hard core fans who were there. Adrian Simmons was on this panel with me.

Sunday I didn't have any panels. Went to lunch at a nearby Chinese restaurant with my younger brother, who lives in Austin. That afternoon a student from A&M buttonholed me about being a panelist at AggieCon. I had gone in 2005 and 2006. Unfortunately, it will be a week before ConDFW. I told him to send me a formal invite and I will weigh my options. I sat at the autograph table in the dealers' room from 2:30 to 3:00 and watched people packing up. It will be nice in the future after "Fantastic Texas" comes out for me to actually have a book to sign.

Keith and I watched Howard read his story from the "Dying Earth" anthology, "Frogskin Cap" at the con's conclusion, and we were on the road by 4:30. We rolled into Commerce about 10:30 and I got home about 11:45.

Back on line

Things have been difficult the last week. Our DSL box at home died last Wednesday and a new one didn't arrive until yesterday. It took until now to reconnect it. To re-establish the DSL service, we had to log onto our ATT account, and we couldn't. (I pay bills by phone or by mail). I didn't know the password, or our ATT email address - because I never use it - and I couldn't remember the answer to my own security question.

It was rather stunning, but the tech support had no way - they claimed - to help us, and after spending hours on the telephone my wife and I conceded that we would have to cancel our ATT account. The phone service is not an issue - we both have cell phones - but we would have to get internet service another way.

I called ATT to cancel our account, and when they asked why, I told them that I had no choice, but I had no way to access my own account. That got someone to finally take action, and after using another way to confirm my access, the service department got the tech department on the line and we finally got the information we needed to log on.

This all took hours. I would say it was like pulling teeth, but I've never had a tooth extraction take as long or be as painful.

I will try to get caught up all things 'DilloCon in up coming posts.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Raleigh, Reno et al

Some news I was very happy to hear coming out of WorldCon is that NASFIC next year will be in Raleigh, and the WorldCon in 2011 goes to Reno.

I think having the NASFIC is Raleigh is a great idea, and in fact I think their bid is the FIRST time I have ever pre-supported a bid (like with a few bucks).

Reno will be a great location for the WorldCon, too, great to have it in a western state.

WorldCon also saw the rollout of the Texas bid for WorldCon in 2013, which would be held in San Antonio. Things are looking better and better.

Really getting ready for ArmadilloCon...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

World Con, 'Dillo Con, et al

I wrote to the ArmadilloCon programming chair and sent my regrets for the Friday night panel on Texas alternate history, "Austin? No, Santa Anna is the capital of Texas!" Great panel, I think I might have suggested it myself in my questionnaire. Oh, well, it's my decision to take the bus. They were nice enough to add me onto a Saturday panel,

"Using Softer Sciences in Genre Fiction" Sat 11:00 AM-Noon Phoenix Central - S. Utley*, P. Griffin, T. Anderson, J. Vinge, L. S. Carl, L. Antonelli. History, Economics, Archaeology, Anthropology -- Where can they take your story?

That's my first panel of the con, since I'll be getting to Austin at about 3 a.m. on the Greyhound bus. Here are my other panels:

"Short Fiction" Sat 1:00 PM-2:00 PM deZavala - L. Antonelli, M. Trimm*, J. K. Cheney, C. Richerson, A. G. Latner, D. Webb. A stepping stone or a different type of work altogether?

"Texas!" - Sat 4:00 PM-5:00 PM Phoenix Central - J. Lansdale*, H. Waldrop, N. Barrett, L. Antonelli, S. Cupp, E. Moon. Texas as a place or idea.

"Is Hard Science Fiction Getting Harder to Write?" Sat 10:00 PM-11:00 PM Phoenix Central - J. Hogan*, A. Simmons, L. Antonelli, B. Mahoney, T. Anderson.

Asterisks mark the panel moderators.

My other stuff:

Reading Sat 8:30 PM-9:00 PM Robertson.

Autographing - Sun 2:00 PM-3:00 PM Dealers' Room, w/ T. Anderson, and M. Cardin.

Four panels on Saturday make the day worthwhile. They're nicely spread out. I'll certainly have some free time on Sunday.

This weekend is WorldCon in Montreal. Lots of s-f people are there, although the poor shape of the economy has kept a lot of people home, more than you think suppose. From what I saw on the web, it's about 75 in Montreal, and 101 in Austin

Some of the folks who are going to straight from Canada to Texas are going to get a rude awakening...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Bye-bye Baen's

The s-f community is reeling a bit today after Eric Flint announced on the Baen's Universe web site that they will be tossing in the towel after the April 2010 issue. Although it was close, in the end they didn't get enough paid subscribers to make money, and other issues - the overall national economic slump, Flint's heart by-pass operation in April - was just too much. I think this is the first pro market to go completely bust since the recession began.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Praise for the Professor

Tangent on-line has reviewed Issue No. 4 of Science Fiction Trails, and the reviewer, Aaron Bradford Starr, had nothing but praise for my story:

"Lou Antonelli’s story, “Professor Malakoff’s Amazing Ethereal Telegraph,” spends its opening building a single coherent setting, carefully working into the narrative both the political preoccupation of post-Civil War Reconstruction, and the growing public awareness of the advances of science. Mr. Antonelli is careful to explain scientific particulars to the reader only when his character, the rather dubiously-named Dr. Eustace K. Malakoff, can find a willing audience.

"And the details of Dr. Malakoff’s “ethereal telegraph” are very interestingly presented, making the so-called Professor less than a complete charlatan, but just enough of a trickster to intrigue. His ability to pull telegraph messages “from the ether,” as he claims, using just the power of his mind, is debunked for the reader before we ever see his show, and yet the potential for plot twists makes the story rumble forward unstoppably. Lou Antonelli has crafted a first-rate piece of historical science-fiction here, where the historical elements and scientific detail dovetail to make a strong, believable whole."

Mr. Starr also had some nice observations about the publication as a whole:

"Though there is some dispute, the genre of science fiction is generally agreed to be anchored in some time from the present forward, from the standpoint of the writer. Written work ages, of course, and most of the speculation never comes to pass, or, even more disconcertingly, arrives sooner than expected, and far more advanced and powerful than imagined. So used are we to the idea of science fiction as being predictive in viewpoint, and of a forward-looking orientation, that a collection such as Science Fiction Trails can be perplexing. While the occasional historic slant to a science fiction story has been seen before, a group of seven all under one cover is unusual, and to have them all rooted in a time and place as specific as the American west during the tumultuous years of unfettered expansion is a project of some ambition. The fact that this is a recurring effort, repeated annually, says something about the love that David Riley-–the publication’s editor and publisher--has for the concept."

Monday, August 03, 2009

Armadillcon programming

I got my schedule for ArmadilloCon, and I have to admit, I'm very very pleased. The highlight for me will be the panel Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Phoenix Central room simply titled "Texas!" with Joe Lansdale, Howard Waldrop, Neal Barrett, Scott Cupp, and Elizabeth Moon. I'm proud to be included with this bunch. This should be great. Joe will be the moderator.

Saturday night at 10 p.m. I'm on another panel in the Phoenix Room, "Is Hard Science Fiction Getting Harder to Write?, this one moderated by James P. Hogan. Adrian Simmons will be on this panel, also.

Saturday at 1 p.m. I'm on a panel in the deZavala Room, "Short Fiction", moderated by Mikal Trimm. It includes Alexis Glyn Latner and Don Webb.

My reading will be Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. I'm also scheduled for a signing at 2 p.m. Sunday.

My big regret is that they set up a fantastic panel at 10 p.m. Friday called "Austin? No, the capital of Texas is Santa Anna" on Texas alternate history - and put me down as moderator - and I can't make it. I told them originally I would be there by 5 p.m. because I planned to drive down Friday afternoon, but after the SoonerCon fiasco, I'm now taking a bus, and I won't get there until the early morning hours. But that's my fault and my problem. Others on the panel include Maureen McHugh and Steve Utley.

Otherwise, looks great. I'm really looking forward to it.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Fantastic Books

Warren Lapine has created a web page for his Fantastic Books imprint, part of his Wilder Publications.

www.fantasticbooks.wilderpublications.com/

You should visit and check out what's already available. Of course, they are planning to publish my collection in the near future.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Hamburger money

Got a check in the mail today from Abandoned Towers for the story they're running next spring, "Across the Plains". Not a big one, but it'll pay for some chow, and I think it's actually the first money to come in during this calendar year.

Otherwise, working on new stuff, revising old, preparing submissions bus ticket to Austin is stuck with magnet on refrig door. ArmadilloCon is in two weeks.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Credit where it's due

At the start of the week I dropped a few notes in the mail to some authors whom I've gotten to know over the years and whose stories I cited in the SF Signal Mind Meld piece - Gardner Dozois, Michael Swanwick, Maureen McHugh, Howard Waldrop (I had called Brad Denton on the phone the day the article came out because I was so impressed that I wasn't the only person who cited "Sergeant Chip".) I wanted them to know, in case they didn't read SF Scope, that I had "taken their name in vain", as it were.

I also dropped a note to Steven F. Murphy, because I cited his 2007 Interzone story "Tearing Down Tuesday". Murph made the following nice comments on his blog yesterday:

#

Lou Antonelli plugs "Tearing Down Tuesday" at SFSignal.com

"I got a bit of snail mail this week from Texas science fiction writer Lou Antonelli with some good news. He gave me a plug for Tearing Down Tuesday in his SFSignal.com Mind Meld contribution to the topic, “Memorable Short Stories to Add to Your Reading List, Part Two.” For those wondering, we know each other from the Asimov’s Forums back when Asimov’s was run by Gardner Dozois and sanity reigns therein. Further, Lou’s was the last story purchased by Gardner before he stepped down.

"Lou has a new story collection coming out from Wilder Publications called Fantastic Texas. Many of his stories are set in his balliwick of Texas and he is one of the few writers who do not resort of all of the negative rural stereotypes in his stories. If I were putting together an anthology of positive American Midwest Rural stories, Lou would be one of the authors I’d contact.

"He is also, for the record, one of the three people who identified Rev. Caldwell J. Robinson for the cardboard character that he is. Though I’d argue that Robinson had to be that way for the story to sell and also as a bit of a red herring for the ending. Still, Lou raises a valid criticism that went largely unnoticed elsewhere in the community.

"So, thanks for the kind words, Lou.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Spinning the wheels...

I kind of hit a writer's block at the start of this week, a combination of coming to a crucial place in "Desarralo Separado" as well as the shock of Patricia having to leave and stay with her mom suddenly on Monday. Mom-in-law is recuperating from a shoulder operation and can't drive. Some friends, and especially Patricia's aunt, have been helping her. The aunt took ill and went to the hospital suddenly on Monday and Patricia had to take off pretty quickly. I'm sad to hear the aunt has been diagnosed with color cancer; I hope they caught it fairly early. In the meantime Patricia is staying with her mom as a caregiver.

I decided to lay "Desarrolo Separado" aside for a while, and I've made a couple of starts on stories I'm sure I will come back to - "Sympathy for Salieri" and "Agni Malish" - but I had to take another break. I came up with a good idea; instead of writing, I did some editing and redacted the first chapter of "Dance With Me Henry" into a short story. That seems to have gotten me in the groove again. I will keep working on it over the weekend.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Given their due

This just in: Tor.com is SFWA’s newest qualifying short fiction market. Today the board of directors of SFWA unanimously voted to add Tor.com to the list of SFWA qualifying markets. Just celebrating its first year online, this extension of Tor Books features science-fiction and fantasy fiction as well as art, non-fiction, essays, and book review

Sunday, July 26, 2009

In case you missed it...

Here is my portion of the Mind Meld feature which was posted by SF Signal on Wednesday:

#

Lou Antonelli


Lou Antonelli has had 43 stories published in the past six years in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia in place such as Asimov's Science Fiction, Jim Baen's Universe, Dark Recesses and Andromeda Spaceways In-flight Magazine. He has had ten honorable mentions in The Year's Best Science Fiction (St. Martin's Press, Gardner Dozois, ed.). His Texas-themed reprint collection Fantastic Texas is forthcoming from Wilder Publications. He lives in Mount Pleasant, Texas, with his wife, Patricia, and is managing editor of the Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune

Some of the first stories that made a big impression of me were from the Silver Age of the 1950s that were just being anthologized when I was a kid growing up in the 1960s. Some of those stories included:

"The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke. Well-written with a clever as well as awe-inspiring ending, it made a big impression on me. Same goes for his story "The Star."

"Disappearing Act" by Alfred Bester. In retrospect, Bester was my favorite author when I was young, and this was the most memorable story for me, again, because of the ironic ending.

"The Cold Equations" by Tom Godwin. A story that made a big impression on me because of how much I hated it, I've come up with a dozen ways over the years in my head how the problem in the story could have been solved without killing the stowaway. I guess I'm a humanist at heart; I feel science was made to serve man, not the other way around.

I read very little original s-f in the 1960s and 1970s while I was in junior high, high school and then college. "Eyes Do More Than See" by Isaac Asimov, published in 1965, is one story I remember. It is a very sentimental story that made helped me realize that I am, at heart, a very sentimental person.

I was a big fan of Omni in the 1980s and one of the stories I liked the best from that era was "Wild, Wild Horses" by Howard Waldrop. It is a magnificent piece of droll secret history, with some wistful twists, and it helped me realize what kind of fiction I might write myself one day. "Flying Saucer Rock and Roll", another Waldrop Omni story from that era, is one of the most fun things I've ever read.

"His Power'd Wig, His Crown of Thornes" by Marc Laidlaw, another Omni story from the '80s, impressed me at the time with the potential of alternate history.

More recently, I'd cite "The Lincoln Train" by Maureen McHugh, published in 1995. Another great alternate history story that centers on the seminal event of American history, the Civil War.

"A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows" by Gardner Dozois. Published in 1999, it impressed me with a realistic vision of the perils and promise of Transhumanism, with the humanity of the protagonist at the very core of the story.

"The Raggle Taggle Gypsy-o" by Michael Swanwick, published in 2000, was a very clever tale on the creation of archetypes. As a journalist for over 30 years now, I see the same crazy stuff over and over again, and it struck a chord with me.

Stories from this century I find memorable include "Sergeant Chip" by Brad Denton (F&SF, Sept. 2004), a well-written futuristic story with a canine protagonist who was honestly depicted; both Sergeant Chip and the story had a lot of integrity; "Just Like the Ones We Used to Know" by Connie Willis (Asimov's, Dec. 2003), clever, compelling, entertaining and extremely well written; and "Tearing Down Tuesday" by Steven Francis Murphy (Interzone, May 2007) which impressed me with how there are brand new writers out there who can still write the Good New Stuff.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Published

The set of Mind Meld interviews was published on SF Signal today. Very interesting choices, and the coincidences were interesting. I was glad to note, for example, I was not the only subject who cited Brad Denton's "Sergeant Chip".

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mind Meld with me

John DeNardo at the science fiction blog SF Signal asked me last week if I'd participate in their ongoing interview feature, "Mind Meld", which asks a member of the science fiction community to answer one question in depth. I agreed, and my question was "What are some of your favorite stories in sf/f/h and what makes them so memorable?"

I spent some time today writing up my response and I shot it off to him. It should be published on SF Signal on Wednesday.

Otherwise, spent more time on "Desarrolo Separado". I'm concerned to keep the story from needlessly ballooning into a novelette. but after today I think it can be done.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Back to the outline list

Had to spend a few days taking care of some accumulated chores, plan to get back to "Desarallo Separado" today and try to keep with with the list of outlines that is constantly rising like sourdough.

I've had a story idea for an alternate history whereby the Soviet Union makes it to the present day. The anniversary of the moon landing seems to have made the solution of a crucial plot element rise to the top. It also ties in with another story idea I've had had, whereby a de facto independent Texas sends a fellow as its rep to a lunar colony, kind of as a punishment. The working title of this one "Back in the Lun' S.S.R."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Latest pub

Got home this afternoon and found my author's copies of the June-July issue of the Bulletin of the Science Fiction Writers of America in the mailbox, with my interview with Tom Doherty, the founder of Tor books. I originally interviewed Mr. Doherty last fall for a story that ran on the Entertainment page of my newspaper. The interview was extensive enough that I wrote up this second story for the Bulletin afterwards.

A web site maintained by a Texana librarian recently linked up with my two web sites, my personal blog and the blog I've established for my upcoming "Fantastic Texas" collection. Thanks, Will Howard!

http://texasparlor.blogspot.com/2009/07/fantastic-texas-and-lou-antonelli.html

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The mechanics of writing

The acceptance of "Dispatches from The Troubles" (which is a dystopian Texas alternate history) by GUD got me thinking about an old story I started some time ago and then laid aside. It was a stab at a Texas future history, "Desarollo Separado". I started on it last week from scratch and got up to 2,700 words when I stopped for a few days.

Meanwhile I had a chore to do last weekend, which involved going through a box of old floppy disks. In the process I reorganized and re-labeled some of them, including disks which held backed-up s-f stories, and I found the disk that held the original version of "Desarollo". I didn't realize how long ago it was since I wrote it; at least six years.

Anyway, I read over my original start to the story, and realized I had written a good beginning, and maybe a good end - and didn't have the shakes to actually make a story of it. I copied the old text into my new version (the two parts were almost the same length) and I think I can actually put it all together.

I read all the time of authors who've written stories in segments, or who've spliced stories together, and I see from this example how that can happen. I think story scenes will actually benefit from the differing tones caused by the years of separation. It's almost like collaborating with yourself. It makes me think about going back to other false starts and seeing if I can ramp them up again.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A death in the family

The science fiction world was stunned today to learn of the death of Charles N. Brown, the founder and publisher of the trade journal Locus. He died in his sleep while returning to California from the Readercon convention in Massachusetts. Apparently some confidants were told overnight, and then at noon today the publication posted this information on its web site:

#

Locus publisher, editor, and co-founder Charles N. Brown, 72, died peacefully in his sleep July 12, 2009 on his way home from Readercon.

Charles Nikki Brown was born June 24, 1937 in Brooklyn NY, where he grew up. He attended the City College of New York, taking time off from 1956-59 to serve in the US Navy, and finished his degree (BS in physics and engineering) at night on the GI Bill while working as a junior engineer in the '60s. He married twice, to Marsha Elkin (1962-69), who helped him start Locus, and to Dena Benatan (1970-77), who co-edited Locus for many years while he worked full time. He moved to San Francisco in 1972, working as a nuclear engineer until becoming a full-time SF editor in 1975. The Locus offices have been in Brown's home in the Oakland hills since 1973.

Brown co-founded Locus with Ed Meskys and Dave Vanderwerf as a one-sheet news fanzine in 1968, originally created to help the Boston Science Fiction Group win its Worldcon bid. Brown enjoyed editing Locus so much that he continued the magazine far beyond its original planned one-year run. Locus was nominated for its first Hugo Award in 1970, and Brown was a best fan writer nominee the same year. Locus won the first of its 29 Hugos in 1971.

During Brown's long and illustrious career he was the first book reviewer for Asimov's; wrote the Best of the Year summary for Terry Carr's annual anthologies (1975-87); wrote numerous magazines and newspapers; edited several SF anthologies; appeared on countless convention panels; was a frequent Guest of Honor, speaker, and judge at writers' seminars; and has been a jury member for various major SF awards.

As per his wishes, Locus will continue to publish, with executive editor Liza Groen Trombi taking over as editor-in-chief with the August 2009 issue.

A complete obituary with tributes and a photo retrospective will appear in the August issue.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Tuckerization

You know, "Dispatches from the Troubles" has the most overt Tuckerization I've ever done. I named the Police Commissioner for the American-Irish Republic "Guillermo Ledbetter" in tribute to my friend Bill Ledbetter.

I'm up to 2,700 words on my latest AH story, "Desarallo Separado" ('Separate Development' in Spanish) which is set in the future after the U.S. loses control of Texas and a racist redneck regime imposes "Texpartheid" on the Mexican majority.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The latest

Mailed off my latest, "Black Hats and Blackberrys" today, also dropped a previous story, "Meet Me at the Grassy Knoll" to a place I've never submitted before,the Saturday Evening Post.

I don't think a whole lot is shaking in the genre this week, with the combination of the summer doldrums and Readercon. I checked the temperatures this afternoon between here and Boston - 63 degrees versus 89. No wonder everyone is going to Readercon!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Finishing up

Finished checking manuscript for "Fantastic Texas" and emailed it back to Ian Strock.

Also finished up "Black Hats and Blackberrys." It's fairly short, came in at 2,200 words.

This is the 84th story I've written since 2002.

Proof-checking time

Hope everyone had a nice 4th of July.

My main project for the rest of the weekend is to check the manuscript for my Texas-themed short story reprint collection which is going to be printed by Wilder Publications. Editor Ian Randal Strock got it to me a few days ago. I want to get "Fantastic Texas" back to him by Monday.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly

Got word from Adrian Simmons about the launch of a new ezine. Thought I'd give it a plug here. Here is their own description from their web site:

#

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly is an ezine dedicated to publishing short works of heroic fantasy. More than that, through both prose and poetry we hope to hearken an older age of storytelling — an age when a story well told enthralled audiences. Traits of great oral storytelling survive the ages to influence treasures of literature, the pulps, radio plays, late-night game sessions, and now Heroic Fantasy Quarterly.

Our favorite storytellers, a few ancient and a few not, deliver action, reaction, and repercussion — and rarely divulge the thought processes that guide a character. These storytellers know that sometimes an audience just wants to see what happens next, that sometimes it’s more interesting to watch a person open a box than to hear about why he or she decided to open it in the first place.

Here’s a little more, then, about what you’ll find inside the HFQ box . . .

As our name suggests, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly isn’t limited to stories about swordsmen or far-traveling adventurers; it’s also about fantastical lands and magicks and creatures — both friend and foe — which together make heroic fantasy tales memorable and distinct from other sorts of stories.

But the tales at HFQ share another quality no less important than any other: our prose starts fast, with an emphasis on action. Be it an exchange of blows or insults, the spurring-on of steed, or the application of poultices to wounds, things happen and happen quickly in the pages of HFQ.

So if you like some sorcery with your sword and the prospect of blood with your poetry, bookmark us (or subscribe via RSS) and look for new issues at the first of July, October, January, and April.

#

Their address is http://www.heroicfantasyquarterly.com/

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Another sale

Got the email today that my rewrite of the ending of "Dispatches from The Troubles" was acceptable and so GUD (Greatest Uncommon Denominator) magazine has accepted my story for Spring 2010. I have confirmed my acceptance.

It will be published is Issue No. 6. Issue No. 4 is going out in the mail right now.

GUD is a semi-annual and seems to establishing an excellent reputation for itself. "Painlessness" (from issue No. 2) won 2009 Ditmar Award for Best Novella and 2008 Aurealis Award for Best Horror Short Story; "Night Bird Soaring" (from issue No. 3) up for 2008 Sidewise Award for Best Short-Form Alternate History

"Dispatches" has got to be one of the wackiest alternate histories I've ever done, and it's set down smack dab in South Texas. At over 11,000 words, it is the longest story I've ever written (except for the book, of course).

With Abandoned Towers accepting "Across the Plains" a few days ago (I dropped the contract for them in today's mail), that's two stories already accepted for 2010.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Neanderthal tales

Ted Kosmatka is collecting up stories to read with the goal of pitching a Neanderthal-themed collection to a publisher. I emailed him my story "My Ugly Little Self" which ran in the U.K. publication Twisted Tongue in Dec. 2007. Ted's story "N-Words" was reprinted in both the Dozois and Hartwell "Best of" anthologies this year.

Got promising news from a semi-prozine, that they are considering a story for their Spring 2010 issue. The editor asked for a rewrite of the ending, which I've done and sent on its way.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Latest sale

Got the contract in the email yesterday from the magazine Abandoned Towers. It started last year and is up to issue No. 3. They will have a fourth issue in a while and my story "Across the Plains" will be running in Issue No. 5, early next year. It's a small sale, but its a print magazine, and keeps up the process of emptying the trunk. It is a fantasy, whereby I depict an incident that explains where a 12-year old kid name of Bobby Howard gets visions of a barbarian past.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Another Honorable Mention

Tuesday, June 23, was the release date for Gardner's annual anthology, "The Year's Best Science Fiction". This is the 26th annual edition. I logged in and ordered it from Amazon, and it arrived in today's mail (Saturday).

It was nice to see he recognized "The Witch of Waxahachie" in the honorable mention list. That's the tenth time he's done that since the 2004 volume. I've had at least one every year since then except for 2007.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Black Hats and Blackberrys"

Started work yesterday on my next story, a little piece of science fantasy about a fellow who somehow shoots off an email warning to an ancestor to prevent a family tragedy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Another off in the mail

Finished up "The Centurion and the Rainman" today; clocked in at 5,617 words. It's going out in tomorrow's mail. It's the fifth story I've completed since May 26; the fourth this month ("Blue Tango", which is a collaboration with Brad Sinor, left May 26).

The four solo efforts that have been completed since June 1 are "Great White Ship", "Mak Siccar", "Hopscotch and Hottentots" and now "Centurion". And I'm ready to launch into the next one, "The Stinky Men".

I don't know why, but I just like these most recent stories better than stuff I have written before.

"Centurion" is the 83rd story I've written since I started in Sept. 2002. With the publication of "Airy Chick" in Alienskin this month, I've had 43 publications - so I guess I'm batting .500. This month also marks six years since I had my first publication, "Silvern" in Revolution SF. Next month will mark four years since my first pro story, "A Rocket for the Republic" came out in Asimov's.

It doesn't seem like all that long.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Fantastic Texas" update

Ian Strock says "Fantastic Texas" is next on the conveyor belt and he'll be working on it soon. Then it will go to Warren Lapine for him to sprinkle publisher pixie dust (or whatever it is publishers do).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"The Centurion and the Rainman"

Started my latest short story Wednesday, essentially finished it yesterday. I will probably polish it up and run off a copy to proof this evening. Came in at 5,600 words. It's another divergence for me, it's a near future tale (set in 2036). It explains what happened in 2012, and who autistic children really are.

Anyone who read "The Witch of Waxahachie" will see my fascination with magic versus science as competing lifestyles. In this case, the worlds overlap, with the science world oppressing the magic world. I like the neologism "Apartech" - it won't come as a surprise that I studied South African history in college. The name of the protagonist, Andy Donard, plays off the name of a famous South African security officer who helped behind the scenes to bring down the Apartheid regime - Don Card.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

World Horror Convention going to Texas in 2011

I'm reposting this article from Ian Eandal Strock from SFScope today:

#

The World Horror Society has announced that the 2011 World Horror Convention will be held in Austin, Texas, from 28 April to 1 May. Convention co-chairs Nate Southard and Lee Thomas have already announced author Sarah Langan as their first Guest of Honor.

The WHS says that Austin was chosen for "its unique style and rich genre history. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was filmed near the city, and the remakes of both Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th were filmed in town. Austin also serves as home to the largest urban bat colony in North America, and at sunset 1.5 million bats fly over the city, truly marking it as a horror locale. (There's a reason the city's motto is 'Keep Austin Weird'.)"

Southard said "Texas has a long history of strange fiction, serving as home to such luminaries as Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, and Joe R. Lansdale. Bringing the World Horror Convention to Austin is a natural. It's a vibrant city with a taste for the eccentric and a love of the arts. Further, its central, southern location makes it convenient for travelers throughout the US, and visitors from abroad will have no trouble reaching us either."

Of Langan's choice, Thomas said "We couldn't be more pleased. Sarah was at the top of our list, and her enthusiastic agreement to attend really set the tone for what we hope to achieve with this convention. We'll be inviting additional industry luminaries, and we'll make announcements when those folks are confirmed."

#

Yeah, I know exactly what you're thinking, probably the same as I:

JOE! JOE! WE WANT JOE!

I notice they say Sarah Langan is the first guest of honor. They better get Nacogdoches on the phone, pronto!

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Hopscotch and Hottentots"

...is done. Clocks in at just over 4,000 words. As I mentioned before, it's unusual in being set in outer space. But it really doesn't delve into hard science - more sociology and linguistics. I may send it to Stan Schmidt first.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Emptying the trunk

I've been working on my next story after coming back from SoonerCon, which has the rather bizarre title of "Hopscotch and Hottentots". It sounds strange, but as much as I poke at it, I can justify the title. It's a bit of a stretch for me, it's set on a world settled by humans a thousand years in the future.

With the publication of a half dozen stories since last December - to wit:

"Video Killed the Radio Star" - Apehelion - December 2008

"Acroscaphe" (with Ed Morris) - Planetary Stories - January 2009

"The Silver Dollar Saucer" - Ray Gun Revival - January 2009

"Professor Malakoff's Amazing Ethereal Telegraph" - Science Fiction Trails No. 4 - March 2009

"Good News for the Dead" - M-Brane SF April 2009

"Airy Chick" - Alienskin magazine, June 2009

... my inventory has become depleted, which is why I seem to have become more motivated to write some new short stories. I was very happy to get some of these stories in print - "Video", "The Silver Dollar Saucer" and "Professor Malakoff" are in in my upcoming collection, "Fantastic Texas:.

Since finishing work on the collection, I've finished "Blue Tango" (with Brad Sinor), "Great White Ship" and "Mak Siccar". "Hopscotch and Hottentots" will probably be in the mail this week.

I don't know why, but these stories are coming in shorter and tighter. I actually think they have some potential. Maybe I'm improving as a fiction writer.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Quick turnaround

I was logging in the publication of "Airy Chick" into my records, and I realized that story has one of the fastest times from completion to publication I ever had. It was first sent out April 10, 2008, and was published June 5, 2009, so it was just under 14 months.

Of course, it was a flash, which may have helped. It only ran through two slush piles before sticking at Alienskin.

Not bad for a conceit, really.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Soonercon

For the time I attended, Soonercon was alright. Of course, as I noted in a previous post, I got off to a bad start. I missed my panel and reading Friday, and didn't get to the con until about mid-day Saturday. I made my two panels, one at noon and one at 4 p.m. and that was it - I didn't have any panels Sunday. Gorg Huff from the 1632 gang was good enough to take me and drop my off in Dallas at my mother-in-law's on his way back to Austin Sunday. He left about mid-day, so my participation in the con was essentially just over 24 hours.

It was good to see Paula Goodlett from 1632 and Baen's again. I haven't seen her in person in about two years. It was also great to see Bill Ledbetter. As someone who lives in the Dallas area, Bill was willing to help me get there, but since my mother-in-law lives in Oak Cliff and Gorg was driving through Dallas (if you know Dallas neighborhoods, you know why it works) I accepted his offer.

My mother-in-law loaned my her car and I drove back to Mount Pleasant Sunday night. Patricia drove the car back into Dallas today and will be staying with her for a while.

Enjoyed the stay with Beverly and Mike Saturday. We all had dinner at a great Indian restaurant. Beverly cooked breakfast Sunday. I also enjoyed the other members of their family, Zoe and Cassie - two really great Canine-Americans. Sweet pups. They seemed to like me, too.

Spent some time with Brad and Sue in the Green Room. To their credit, Soonercon had a nice Green Room. Not all cons have a Green Room and a Con Suite, and it was appreciated by a number of people. At the very least, that's where you can tell people to meet you.

I was happy to get home. I'm taking the freakin' bus to ArmadilloCon!

Monday, June 08, 2009

"Airy Chick"


The current issue (June/July) of Alienskin magazine features my story "Airy Chick" as the lead in its flash section - sort of a satirical take on the Bottleneck Theory of the European gene pool.

The web site is www.alienskinmag.com.

Alienskin graphic licensed by Hemera Technologies, the Big Box of Art.

Putting things in perspective

I have a lot of catching up to do, and the easiest thing to do right off is to reprint my column in today's newspaper, because it tells what happened to me this weekend.

#

We start this story in the middle: It’s 9 a.m. this past Saturday and I’m all alone in Room 26 of the Relax Inn on Trudgeon Street in Henryetta, Oklahoma, feeling sorry for myself.
I’m waiting for someone to (hopefully) arrive and give me a ride to Oklahoma City. Suddenly I am humbled by a reminder of what day it is.
OK, let me backtrack a bit. As I have mentioned in the past, I’ve had some success in my hobby of writing science fiction and fantasy stories. As a result, I get invitations to be a guest panelist at literary conferences, and I’ve spoken as far away as Cincinnati and St. Louis, and closer to home, in Tulsa, Dallas, Austin and College Station.
This year I accepted an invitation to speak at one in Oklahoma City, and early Friday afternoon I hit the road for the four-hour drive.
After leaving a tollbooth on the Indian Nation Turnpike, I had trouble accelerating, and my car finally ground to a halt as I tried to climb a hill. The engine revved, but there was no motion. Not a good sign.
After raising the hood, I went to the back of my station wagon to retrieve some tools. When I grabbed the tailgate, it felt slippery. I raised my hand and realized it was coated with a thin reddish liquid: Transmission fluid.
“This is Not a Good Thing,” I thought.
A helpful state trooper came by and called a wrecker, who towed the car seven miles into Henryetta. Unfortunately, we arrived after 5 p.m. and so the car couldn’t be fixed. The tow truck driver dropped me off at a nearby motel.
As he pulled away and I walked up to the office, I saw to my dismay a sign that indicated that - despite outward appearances - the motel was out of business. A note indicated the location of another motel, down the road, so at 6 p.m. I began to walk down Trudgeon Street with two carry-on-type bags and a briefcase.
Yep, the other motel was down the road – two miles down.
After I was about halfway there, an old boy in a pickup asked me if I needed a lift, and he took me the rest of the way. That’s how I ended spending the night at the Relax Inn in Henryetta.
I called my hosts in Oklahoma City and told them what happened. They said they would come get me (not a short drive – Henryetta is still over 100 miles from Oklahoma City). As I had already missed my panels for Friday, I suggested they could just get me in the morning.
So that’s how I’m watching TV alone in a motel room in Henryetta on a Saturday morning, and as I clicked the remote, I found the live broadcast of the memorial ceremony at the American Cemetery in France to commemorate D-Day.
And as I watched that, and heard some of the recollections of the Normandy Invasion, I said to myself “you over-fed lucky schmuck, you don’t have a thing to complain about!”
It didn’t change any of my circumstances, but it sure put things in perspective.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Looking good

News from Warren Lapine's blog on livejournal:

#

"Okay, Folks, Here it is. the Cover of the first Tir Na Nog Press Realms of Fantasy Magazine. The painting is by Dominic Harmon."

#

Looks pretty good, don't it?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Next publication

Got word from the folks at Alienskin that their next issue is coming out late on June 5. It will be featuring my flash, "Airy Chick".

Got started on another short story, "Mak Siccar" wherein I tackle the Titanic and alternate history.

Getting ready for Soonercon next weekend.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Inspiration

I write s-f and fantasy for fun - it's not my real job - and so I don't make it into drudge work. I only sit down and write when I feel motivated or inspired. I don't need practice writing, with my "real" job being what it is.

I've had a story idea bouncing around in my brain for a few years, about the mysterious appearance of an otherworldly airship at a small East Texas airport during a vicious thunderstorm. For some reason, everything finally clicked in my sub-conscious and last night I sat down to write the story.

I finished a 2,700-word first draft by the time I went to bed. Tonight I fleshed it out a bit to 3,200 words, and read it to Patricia. She also liked it. It's a short, quick alternate history/fantasy read, and it will probably be ready to head for the slush piled on Monday.

Also, the story - "Great White Ship" - will probably be a good story to read at Soonercon.

Here's hoping.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Oww, my head

As I believe I mentioned sometime earlier, a hailstorm April 9 did in our roof. The work crew arrived on Tuesday and have been pounding ever since. Patricia did not get a call to sub yesterday and the noise nearly drove her bonkers.

Someone left a door open yesterday and the girls made a dash for it. Patricia had to work hard to get them back inside. Today she did get to work at the high school. I knocked off after lunch and was home by 1:30, to the girls have some company. I feel better being here. So do they.

Watched "The Goode Family" last night. I liked it, Patricia thought it was stupid. Well, that's why we have two DirecTV receivers at the house.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A chuckle of recognition


You may recall that the Fox Network announced last October they will not be renewing the long-running series “King of the Hill”, which will close out its 13th season next year.
“King of the Hill” is the second-longest running animated series in history – after “The Simpsons” – and in addition to being very popular, garnered much critical acclaim.
Of course, it has always been popular here in Texas, since it’s set in Texas. Neither of the two men behind the series – Mike Judge and Greg Daniels – are native Texans, but Judge lived many years in the Dallas area and obviously drew upon people and places he knew.
The family of Hank and Peggy Hill, their son Bobby and the niece who lived with them, LuAnn Platter – who came to stay with them after her mother went to prison for stabbing her boyfriend – just rang true, along with their neighbors, Wayne Gribble the conspiracy theorist, Bill Dauterive – who’s suffered from low self-esteem ever since his wife left him – and Jeff Boomhauer, always nearly unintelligible since he both mumbles and drawls ( I didn’t know there were people who did that, until I came to East Texas).
The humor on the show was accurate and gentle-natured; the chuckles came naturally. We laughed at the things we recognized. Sometimes I didn’t get some of the humor, not being a native Texan. Other times I was uncomfortable, as the show reminded me that, indeed, I’m not a native Texan. But it was always fun.
Mike Judge now lives in Austin, and I guess when he wanted to come up with another project to follow “King of the Hill”, he drew upon the people and places he now sees every day in that bastion of political correctness. The result – another project with Greg Daniels – was sold to ABC, and it debuts Wednesday night. “The Goode Family” is a gentle satire on eco-freaks and political liberals who try so hard to do good – hence the name.
The father of the family, Gerald Goode, “comes from a long line of over-educated liberals,” in Judge’s own words. Wife Helen is a liberal because her dad is such a right-wing curmudgeon. They have a daughter, Bliss, who is at that awkward stage of being a teenager who just wants to fit in, and is constantly chagrinned by her parents’ behavior.
Being such good politically correct liberals, years ago Gerald and Helen Goode decided to adopt a baby from Africa, but were flustered when the baby arrived from SOUTH Africa. That’s how you get a blond-headed white teenager named Ubuntu.
The family is vegan – meaning not only will they not eat meat, they won’t eat anything that comes from an animal (hence, no eggs, no milk, etc). Their dog, Che, is one of the funniest characters in the show as he frantically tries to catch squirrels and neighborhood pets to get some meat!
I don’t know if liberals will chuckle at themselves as much as more conservative, traditional people did when they watched “King of the Hill”. I hope so, it would do them some good. As the old saying goes, if you can’t laugh at yourself sometimes, other people will do it for you.
(Originally published in the Mount Pleasant (Tx.) Daily Tribune, Monday, May 25, 2009.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"Fantastic Texas" blog

As a promotional tool for the upcoming publication of my "Fantastic Texas" collection, I've created a separate blog and posted entries blurbing the individual stories. It can be found at www.fantastictexas.blogspot.com

Sunday, May 24, 2009

New from Fantastic Books



Warren Lapine, on his livejournal blog, yesterday announced the publication of two books by James Gunn, a collection - "Human Voices" and the novel, "This Fortress World".

Here is the rundown from the Barnes and Noble web site, from the links in Warren's blog:

#

In Human Voices you will find stories covering the past three decades of James Gunn's career: imaginative, entertaining speculations revealing insight-and foresight-into human nature now and in the future, which are the unmistakable hallmarks of his best fiction.

James Gunn's work is always polished, ironic, and deeply concerned about humankind. Long before I knew him, his stories and novels were a pleasure to read, and this has never changed. -George Zebrowski, Award Winning author of Macrolife and Brute Orbits

These are consistently and admirably intelligent, austerely but effectively written stories . . . . - Roland Green, Booklist

SFWA Grand Master James Gunn's This Fortress World takes place in the far future of our galaxy, when countless civilizations have risen and fallen, leaving only their marvelous scientific achievements as legacy to those worlds which have now fallen into a new Dark Age. On the planet Brancusi, William Dane, an acolyte monk in the all-powerful Church, comes into possession of a crystal pebble dropped in the offering plate, a stolen treasure believed to hold untold secrets of mankind's past. There are powerful men who will stop at nothing, including murder, to recover this ancient artifact, and Dane must flee for his life to protect the knowledge the crystal holds.

Once in the outside world to which he is a stranger, and no longer in the comforting isolation of the Cathedral where he has spent his entire life, Dane faces not only internal challenges to his deepest held beliefs, but those external and involving the long-term destiny of mankind-if only he can survive. Deceived, imprisoned, tortured, and now a murderer himself, Dane must not only break down the walls that have kept him alone in the world, but those imposed upon the people through an oppressive centralized government, a government putting its own desires above those of its people.

Lies, lies, lies, and bullshit

At the Amazing Stories web site, there is a guest editorial by one Chris M. Barkley engaging in more useless navel gazing over the Sad Puppi...