Wednesday, January 28, 2015

47 years on

Back when I was 12, I joined a Boy Scout Troop in Billerica, Massachusetts. I became patrol scribe, later earned the journalism merit badge - which I still have, sewed to a merit badge sash hanging in the closet with my old uniform.

That all essentially started me on my path as a writer. My scoutmaster at the time, Alfred J. Oxton, is still alive and living in AridZona (as he terms it) and I sent him a copy of "The Clock Struck None". recently.

I received an email from him.

Ave Lou,

Great storeys! Thank you for sending me your new book.

I enjoyed the storeys. Some more than others since certain ones touched
upon ideas or places close to me.

Well Done!

~ajo

As you can imagine, this is nostalgic, satisfying, and a little amazing. I'll take it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Creative writing, novel update

I will be teaching my creative writing class again through the Continuing Education Department of Northeast Texas Community College starting Feb. 26 and running for six sessions through April 9.
This session will be held at the main campus.

Meanwhile I passed the 33,000 word mark this weekend on my retro-futurist alternate history novel, "1985".

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sasquan

Well, I bought my supporting membership for Sasquan. Couldn't make the WorldCon last year because the new owners of the newspaper where I worked at the time erased my two weeks accumulated vacation. I drove to WorldCon in 2013 since it was in San Antonio.

I should be able to make the WorldCon this year (and as I noted previously, I am on the program for the American Mensa annual gathering in Louisville, Kentucky.

For the record, I support the Washington. D.C. 2017 WorldCon bid.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Mensa presentation


With the goal of doing a little proselytizing while looking for different events to attend in 2015, I made a proposal for a program this year's Mensa Annual Gathering (what they call their annual convention).

I received confirmation of my program yesterday (Tuesday), so I will be presenting a program on "The Drive of Probability: The role of science, technology and prediction in literary science fiction" at the event.

The 2015 Mensa Annual Gathering is being held at the Galt House in Louisville, Kentucky, the week of July 1-5. The exact day and time of my program will be determined later.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ravencon

I've added a new convention to my schedule for 2015, I will be a panelist at Ravencon in Richmond April 24-26. So far, this is my only convention outside Texas or Oklahoma, since I am already committed to ConDFW, SoonerCon and ApolloCon. Looking forward to it.

My mother is 83, ready to turn 84 in April and lives in Northern Virginia. During my visit at Christmas, it occurred to me to perhaps schedule more visits to the East Coast to see her more often. That, and the fact I see my publisher Ian Strock with Fantastic Books is going to be there, poked me to offer my services.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A reviewer who "gets it"

Authors know there are reviewers who "get" a story and then there are those who don't. This review completely "gets" my story that was published in Issue No. 2 of Sci-Phi Journal, "On the Spiritual Plain".

If you don't want to follow the link, here are his pertinent comments:

"Another story, among several that impressed me, was Lou Antonelli’s “On the Spiritual Plain” (issue 2), about a planet on which, because of its peculiar electro-magnetic characteristics, one’s ghost (soul ? spirit?) becomes visible after death. Here the protagonist is a Methodist minister who first encounters the phenomenon when a workman is killed in an accident, and the ghost visits him. The story poses more questions than it attempts to answer, as the Methodist minister with the help of an alien “shaman,” for want of a better word, shepherds “Joe McDonald’s” soul to a place where it can leave the planet and “dissipate.” The story does not attempt to make a statement about the afterlife, but is a poetic meditation on of the process of dealing with death. All of the stories have a “Food for Thought” section at the end, which draws one’s attention to the philosophical issues involved. I have not decided yet whether these are more limiting than helpful. A good story speaks for itself in ways which only stories can speak. I found this story more evocative than the “Food for Thought” section that followed."

Note: The italics are mine. I realize that at my age (I turned 58 on Jan. 6), this is something more on my mind than ever - especially since I have already outlived my best friend in college and my best friend in high school. These were two of the finest people I ever knew.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Dictating stories

One of the problems I have - since my day job as a newspaper editor involves typing and my second career as a fiction writer also involves typing - is a lot of wear and tear on my hands and wrists, and I've had to deal with painful flare-ups of carpal tunnel syndrome over the years.

Last spring I finally plunked down some money and went and bought Dragon voice recognition software and I started to use it. In fact that's what I'm using to do this post. I'm dictating into Dragon.

Apparently I dictate as fast as I type, which is about 1000 words an hour. But honestly, using Dragon is a lot less painful, and causes a lot less wear and tear on my wrists. The voice recognition software has been a big help.

The software only cost me $79 at the local Staples. It comes with a microphone and headset. I found it east to install and use. It has the option to update itself on the basis of your usage, and also by reading your documents.

I don't have the clearest of pronunciations, but it does a fine job of taking down my words, and when it goes wrong, it's usually my fault.

Since the software enters wherever the cursor rests, you can dictate anything. I've found it's great for simple tasks like email, and it really helps get out the first draft of a story; just re-read carefully in case it didn't quite put down what you said or meant.

The story I contributed to The World Fantasy Con anthology, "The Girl Who Couldn't Fly" , was written using the Dragon software.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Many benefits

There are many positives that come out of my recent job change.

First off, I will be working for people again who are sympathetic to my writing. The change to corporate ownership at the newspaper half year ago was definitely for the worse in that regard. That company is pretty much in it just for the money, and really couldn't care less about its employees. Unfortunately, that's not uncommon in American business today, but newspapers are especially bad in overworking their employees because of the amorphous nature of the job duties. I was on salary, and from all indications the management would've been content to have me work 80 hours a week. They are very good at giving orders and not take into consideration the workload. Practically speaking, many newspaper employees spend enormous amounts of time working off the clock. That kind of hourly theft is journalism's dirty little secret. It's hardly surprising among the rank and file of American workers that capitalism has a bad reputation; what was it Ambrose Bierce said? "Piracy is capitalism without the frills."

Now with with my change in job, I can actually attend conventions on Thursdays and Fridays. In fact, I need to contact conventions whose invitations I have already accepted to let them know of my beneficial change in schedule.

The current owners of my old paper did me one serious harm when they canceled my two weeks accrued vacation upon taking over the business, thereby preventing me from attending the world science fiction convention in London this summer. Loncon programming didn't wonderful job of matching me to a couple of panels on steam punk and alternate history, but I had to renege on my commitment once my vacation time evaporated. Unfortunately, I have worked in corporate owned newspapers before, and that was hardly a surprise; that's the way they treat their employees.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

First day on the new job

Enjoyed the first day on the new job, and spent more time on the novel in the evening.

The conjunction of the birthday with the first day on the job was kinda neat. It wasn't planned, but that's the way it worked out, and it was cool.

Getting out of the clutches of the corporation that owns my old paper reminds me of a line by Peter Lorre's character's in the 1940 movie, "You'll Find Out", where he says:

"I'm tired of wasting my time outwitting fools!"

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Happy birthday to me

Well today is my 58th birthday, and I celebrate it by starting a new job - I'm going to the managing editor of The Clarksville Times, the paper in Clarksville, Texas, in Red River County. I'm going back to work for the people I worked for, for seven years before the Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune was sold to a corporation.

There are a number of positive things about the change. I don't have to move, I will be able to commute. In fact, after all these years of having to be circumspect because of living and working in the same city, I can become a regular citizen and taxpayer in my hometown. I can get involved in some things I couldn't before.

Going from working for a newspaper owned by a corporation to one locally owned will be a great improvement in working conditions and hours. Many, many years ago, I told a friend of mine - after having both worked for a corporation-owned paper versus local ownership - that when the day comes I would entitle my autobiography "I Escaped From a Newspaper Chain Gang."

The change in schedule, going from a daily to a weekly, will enable me to spend more time on my fiction writing. After I was bounced from my previous job at he end of last week, I spent a nice 45 minutes chatting and getting caught up with Joe Lansdale Saturday. We talked about many things, but his parting observation was "You need to write a novel."

In fact, I got a start on it yesterday, 3821 words. It's an alternate history set on a Mars colony thirty years ago, with the working title of "1985".

The situation reminds me of what happened in 2002, when - after having owned and operated my own small community weekly paper for six years (which was a very time consuming undertaking), I had to admit defeat, close down, and get a "paying job".

The demands on my time were so much less that I had the chance to try my hand writing fiction. By that fall, I was submitting stories, I had my first publication in 2003, and I was published in Asimovs in 2005.

Another plus go the new job is that I'm free to pursue free lance opportunities. A magazine editor in Dallas wants to talk to me about doing some work for her. I may meet with her before the end of the week.

I'm proud I hung in with my old job as long as I did - since July 2007. In the end, since wouldn't walk the plank for the corporation, they had to throw me overboard. It's their loss, I say.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Many positive developments

Well, I already have a new job. I start tomorrow, my 58th birthday. It doesn't pay as much as my old one, but I was also contacted by a Dallas magazine publisher who would like my help part-time, so I may very well be making at least as much, if not more in the long run. Plus I got a start on my novel, with a tentative title of "1985". Wrote 3,500 words so far.

I also responded to a solicitation by donating a story to the upcoming ConDFW souvenir book.


Sunday, January 04, 2015

That's gratitude for ya'

Well, after seven and a half years at the same newspaper, the current publisher bounced me on Friday. The paper changed owners last June, and really, that was to be expected. I worked hard and did a good job, but times change.

I worked seven years for a local family that owned the paper. Newspapering is never easy, but at least they cared about their employees, and tried to be considerate of them. Struggling through the Recession plus the problems peculiar to the newspaper business put the family behind the proverbial eight-ball, and they had to sell out.

I'm proud I stuck with the job as long as I did. I leave with a certain sense of liberation. It's been hard work, and I'm sure better things are in the future.

I had a nice, long talk with Joe Lansdale Saturday, the conclusion of which was that Joe said it's time for me to write a novel. I'm sure he's right. I've spent the weekend getting stuff organized, and after I secure what Ardath Mayhar would call "an eating job" - or apply for unemployment - I'll get after it.


Thursday, January 01, 2015

New Year's Eve

Spent New Year's Eva at home, watching the 1984 version of "A Christmas Carol" - the one with George C. Scott as Scrooge - and drinking Lone Star beer. Gave the wife a smooch at midnight. Ate black-eyed peas for breakfast.

The spin rack is STILL making a comeback!

I'm still engaged in my policy of buying genre books from the spin racks in Dollar General stores to encourage them to stock these &q...