Sunday, February 23, 2014

ConDFW

Just spent the weekend at ConDFW in Dallas. I drove in Friday night after work and shared a room with my friend Keith West. I had five panels in two days, plus a signing and a reading. Overall, things went well. I've unpacked and I'm pretty tired, so I won't be long this evening, but I will post more during the next few days.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Good Review for "The Clock Struck None" at Amazing Stories

Via Keith West:

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Lou Antonelli has been writing short fiction for just over a decade. Most of his work falls into the subgenres of alternate history and secret history. The Clock Struck None collects some of his best work to date.

Antonelli is a transplanted northerner who moved to Texas a few decades ago and calls the northeast part of the state his home. He’s been a newspaperman all his adult life. Both of these things inform his fiction. Reporters are the protagonists in more than one of his stories, such as “Hearts Made of Stone”, in which an editor revives a golem during the Civil Rights Movement in East Texas.

Many of the tales herein are set in his adopted state. But it’s a Texas most nontexans wouldn’t recognize. Texas is a big state, with a long and varied history, a history that Antonelli mines for gold nuggets. A great deal of alternate history focuses on the major turning points such as battles, assassinations, and the like. Antonelli looks deeper than that.

There are 28 stories in this book, so I won’t try to summarize all of them. They range from novelettes to short-shorts. Instead, I’ll highlight some of my favorites and why I like them.

“The Great White Ship” is a combination of steampunk and alternate history in which an airship from a parallel timeline arrives in East Texas. “Meet me at the Grassy Knoll” is Antonelli’s take on the Kennedy assassination.

Famous literary figures make appearances in stories such as “Across the Plains”, “Twilight on the Finger Lakes”, and “Pirates of the Ozarks”. I find a lot of alternate history stories involving famous people annoying because they’re downright silly, with little to no extrapolation of what could have happened. Antonelli’s tales are logical, believable, and thoroughly enjoyable. In some cases, you don’t know the famous person the story is about until the end. The characters referenced in these stories include Gilgamesh (“Tell Gilgamesh I’m Sorry) and The Three Stooges (“Re-Opening Night”).

While in college, Antonelli studied South African history. He puts his education to use in “The Centurion and the Rainman” and “The Amerikaan Way”. Both of these stories deal with apartheid but in entirely different ways.

Several of the stories make reference to a prehistory in which Atlantis and a rival nation destroyed themselves in a thermonuclear war. These were some of my favorite bits. I say this apart from any connection to the stories in which they appeared. I have no idea if Lou intends to write a whole series of these stories or if he was using convenient story device. I hope it’s the former.

I found the stories in The Clock Struck None to be fresh and original, and most importantly, entertaining. None of them were like anything I’ve read recently. Antonelli has unique voice. It’s easy to see from reading the stories in The Clock Stuck None why he was a finalist last year for a Sidewise Award.

The release date for The Clock Struck None is February 14, so it’s just hit the shelves. Check this one out.

Monday, February 17, 2014

My Nebula nominations

Saturday at midnight was the deadline for members of the SFWA to nominate works for the annual Nebula awards. I nominated five short stories in that category:

The Gods That Men Don't See, Amy Sterling Casil

Smoke and Feathers, Juliette Wade

Waiting for Medusa, Jack Dann

I Come from the Dark Universe, Cat Rambo

A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel, Ken Liu

I also nominated in the Novella category Wakulla Springs by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages.

All of these, except for the Ken Liu story, were brought to my attention by the authors themselves, either independently or in response to my own outreach effort for "Hearts Made of Stone". I felt they were all worthy efforts. I found the Ken Liu story in a search for something clearly alternate history. All great stories.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Research material

The 1975 World Almanac next to the current edition.
Back on Jan. 25 - the last weekend before this when I didn't have a book signing for "The Clock Struck None - my wife and I visited Marshall. I had a very successful book store at a small independent book store then in 2010 for "Texas & Other Planets". But the book store, Prospero's, subsequently closed down.

Otherwise, there is no place to have a book signing in Marshall. There is only one small bookstore in the mall in Marshall. While in Marshall on Jan. 25 I visited it. I introduced myself to the proprietor. This was the third used book store I approached in preparation for the release of "Clock" - the others were in Gladewater and Longview.

I know used book stores generally don't host signings for new releases - Prospero's was a pleasant exception - but in all all
three cases - in Longview, Gladewater and Marshall, too - I got a rude brushoff.

To make it worth my while, while I was at the Marshall store, I picked up a few used books. One of them was a copy of the 1975 World Almanac. I thought it might come in handy in research. As it happens, I found the contemporary references to the Watergate Scandal fascinating. It's interesting to see what the affair looked like to the public immediately after the fact. That helped me when I wrote 'As Tricky as Dick's Hat Band".

So the trip to the Marshall book store turned out to have been more useful than first thought.

Friday, February 14, 2014

ArmadilloCon 36

I have been invited - and accepted - an invite to be a panelist at this year's ArmadilloCon. It will be held July 25-27 in Austin. That makes my fourth convention planned for this year. I will be at ConDFW Feb. 21-23, SoonerCon in Oklahoma City in June, and FenCon in September.

Anyone have any other convention suggestions?


Thursday, February 13, 2014

"As Tricky as Dick's Hat Band"

Finished my latest short story, "As Tricky as Dick's Hat Band", and sent it off to a slush pile. It's the 111th short story I've written since 2002. It's both a secret history and an alternate history. Right now I have 11 stories in 12 different slush piles.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Con DFW programming

I got the link to my panel line-up for ConDFW in Dallas. I'm very pleased. I'm only going to be there Saturday and Sunday because I plan to work a regular day Friday, but I'll get to Dallas that evening and then I have five panels in two days, plus a reading and a signing.

The panels are a good fit for me, and I will be the moderator for three of them.

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Lou Antonelli

SATURDAY:
PROGRAMMING 2 (Chinaberry)
Saturday, 10am: Don’t Quit Your Day Job!
Panelists: Gloria Oliver, Jaye Wells, K Hutson, Lou Antonelli (M), Paul Black

A popular panel from last year, we bring the perennial topic back: what does one do to survive while waiting for the big break? Our panelists talk about what they had to do to survive, and if there was video evidence to prove it.

PROGRAMMING 2 (Chinaberry)
Saturday, 12pm: Researching the Past: Creating Historical Fiction Panelists: Taylor Anderson, Larry Atchley, Jr., Lou Antonelli (M), Sabine Starr, Melanie Fletcher

It is hard to recreate the past without doing research into it. This is simply because we, the readers and authors, didn’t LIVE in that past. Thus, to understand what it was like to live in those times we must look to other sources for information – journals, pictures, drawings, anything we can get our hands on. Our panelists explain where to go and what to look for when trying to create another time in our heads.

AUTORAPHS (Dealers Room)
Saturday, 4pm: Martha Wells, Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, Lou Antonelli

PROGRAMMING 2 (Chinaberry)
Saturday, 5pm: Is Anything Pure? Western Mashups Explained

Panelists: Ethan Nahte, Thomas Knowles (M), Lou Antonelli, Linda Donahue, Mark Finn
Why is the mashup style so popular? And why does the Western seem to never be “just” a Western any more? Our authors talk about Western mashups and why they are so attractive to write.

SUNDAY:
READING (Trinity VIII)
Sunday, 12pm: Linda Donahue, Lou Antonelli

PROGRAMMING 3 (Trinity VII)
Sunday, 1pm: Escape from the Slush Pile

Panelists: Scott A. Cupp, Mary Gearhart-Gray, Stormy Stogner Medina, Sabine Starr, Lou Antonelli (M) We bring back this popular panel from the last several years to tantalize people with mistakes and errors you should try to avoid. Beware: someday you may end up here if you do not learn from your mistakes. Come and learn from our editors on what to avoid so you don’t end up on – the slush pile.

PROGRAMMING 3 (Trinity VII)
Sunday, 3pm: Upwardly Mobile: Writing about Dirigibles and Other Flights of Fancy

Panelists: Larry Atchley, Jr. (M), Lou Antonelli, Rachel Acks, Rie Sheridan Rose, Shanna Swendson
One of the most common sights in both Steampunk and Cyberpunk is the dirigible. Otherwise known as zeppelins or blimps, the hydrogen or helium filled craft lazily float through the sky. It is one thing, however, to imagine it. It is entirely another to be able to write about it believably. For instance, which of the above named craft has NO internal supporting frame? (Blimps!) Our authors talk about the differences and other things to know about when writing about semi-rigid airships.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Latest book signing

Had a nice book signing yesterday (Saturday) at the local library. It's only open four hours on Saturdays, but I sold seven books from 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. My wife came along and helped with the transactions. This sold out my original shipment of 20 books I got a few weeks ago; thankfully, I ordered another 15 and they arrived this past week, so I have books for ConDFW Feb. 21-23.

I had signings last weekend in Longview and the Saturday before that in Mount Pleasant - both at the local Hastings - so that's three weekends in a row I'v peddled books. I will take next weekend off before ConDFW.

One funny side note: At one point while at the library I told my wife I was going to get a drink at the water "bubbler" and she said she'd never heard a water fountain called that. I checked with Wikipedia, and it notes "bubbler" is the common term in only two places in the U.S., southern and eastern Wisconsin and in Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts. I grew up in Eastern Massachusetts between Boston and Providence. I think it's funny 29 years after moving to Texas some snippets of old dialect still linger.

Friday, February 07, 2014

On Clarion

The registration for the Clarion workshops are open now. One author on the SFWA web site made a long post about how great it is. I would have posted a reply to it, but really, any time anyone says anything on the SFWA forums, they get attacked. I mean, it's impossible to tell what will set some assholes off, so rather than tippy toe on eggshells I avoid commenting.

My thinking on the Clarion workshop is that it sounds wonderful. spectacular, fantabulous. I'm sure it's great, and I'm sure it's worth every nanosecond.

My only thought is that, from a personal perspective, having been born in a poor working class family, and having had to work for a living all my life - even while in college -  the last time I had six weeks off during the summer to attend a workshop was 1972, when I was 15.

I've worked full-time ever since then. I literally cannot think of a time since Nixon was president that I could have taken six weeks off for anything.

As for writing, I got by with reading the good old stuff - Heinlein, Asimov, Bester - and such, and overtime I seem to have picked up a few tricks along the way.

It must be nice to have rich parents or be independently wealthy or have government support to take six weeks off to attend a workshop. But I wouldn't know.

Next book signing

I have my next signing for "The Clock Struck None" Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the local library. That will mark three signings on three Saturday's. I will take a break from the signings for one weekend and then I am in Dallas Feb. 21-23 for ConDFW.

I donated a copy of "Clock" as well as "Texas & Other Planets" to the library on Thursday.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Interviews

I have an interview up on the blog "You Are Entitled to My Opinion" by Scott Lefebvre. It's pretty long, and a good source of information about me if you don't much about me. Here's a link:

I spent an hour Monday being interviewed on the phone for another magazine, Creatives. Here is a link where they previously highlighted me as a literary artist:

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Back from book signing

The signing went well in Longview. I sold five books in three hours. I probably could have sold more, but I had to leave at 4 p.m. because I had a commitment to attend an event back home at 6:30 p.m.

In addition to the actual sales, these appearances seem to be good PR, so I think they are helpful. Two guys came in together; one bought "Clock" and the other got on his iPhone and said he ordered "Fantastic Texas" on Kindle.

Speaking on iPhone, one young guy came up and said he walked in the store, and when he saw me there, he looked me up on the web. "You're a big author!" he said, and bought a book.

I've sold enough books now these two weekends I am going to have to order more from Ian Strock. I have a signing here at the local library next Saturday, and then I will be at ConDFW Feb. 21-23.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Next book signing

I am traveling an hour to Longview, Texas, for a signing today starting at 1 p.m. This will be at another branch of Hastings Entertainment. Longview is much larger than Mount Pleasant (80,000 vs. 17,000 population). Longview is the second-largest city in this part of Texas, after Tyler. I recall my book signing for "Fantastic Texas" in 2010 went pretty well there.

The Longview News-Journal was nice enough to include the signing in its weekly calendar listing. They also included a News Brief in their Local News section of their web site.

Next Saturday, Feb. 8, I will be back home for a signing at the Mount Pleasant Library. Then I think I'll take a break before heading off to ConDFW in Dallas Feb. 21-23.

Coming soon!

This is one of my best ever alternate histories.