Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Looking back

You ever go back to read a story that you wrote a number of years ago, and you wonder how you wrote anything so accomplished? The story still seems well-written and entertaining? It's like after the passage of time you garner a little objectivity and you appreciate your own skills more.

I had this experience this past weekend as I reread "The Silver Dollar Saucer" in galley proofs for inclusion in the "Raygun Chronicles" anthology. Funny how, looking back, this story had such a mundane start and then such difficulties getting published.

This is another case where I whipped up a story on an arbitrary maguffin - again, as in the case of the very first story I ever had published ("Silvern" in Revolution SF in 2003), a silver dollar. I distinctly remember pondering a feared case of writer's block while marking time taking photos of a girls softball game in Longview. I decided that I would reach in my pocket and write a story based on whatever random item I pulled out.

Because of the fact I was at a particular game when I did this, I know when I did this - March 2005.

Years ago, Amazon's first attempt at selling individual fiction was called Amazon Shorts, and I submitted "Saucer" to them - and it was accepted. In fact, I got a contract. Then I noticed the contract stipulated you must also have a book available for sale on Amazon.

Poor research on my part - I hadn't noticed that. My first collection, "Fantastic Texas", was still a few years away in 2009, and when pressed, I had to concede I didn't meet the requirements. The contract was withdrawn.

After that inauspicious start, it took 24 submissions and three and a half years for the story to find a home at "Raygun Revival". It was clear after a few rejections that it straddled too many genres and was hard to categorize. Was it a Weird Western? Space Opera? An alien abduction tale? Secret History? Probably all of those. 

It took time, but when the Overlords at Raygun Revival saw it, they snapped it up - bless their little dilithium-crystal powered hearts.

Over the years it's proven to be one of my most popular stories, and it was included in both "Fantastic Texas" and "Texas & Other Planets" - so it's publication in "Raygun Chronicles" will be its third reprint.

Ironically, I got more than double for this republication that I did for when the story was originally published.

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

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

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

- Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots

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- James Hanzelka, Diabolical Plots

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