Monday, December 26, 2016

The arrival of "Dinah Shore"

Gallery of Curiosities went live a couple of days earlier than anticipated.

The double bill features my story "If You Were a Dinah Shore, My Love". This is my 104th short story published since I started in 2003 and my ninth in 2016. This my first story ever published via podcast.

I think both stories are great - and Gallery did a fantastic job with the recordings - but if you want to go straight to "Dinah Shore", it starts at 19:30. Here is the link:

Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas, and is recovering nicely!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

"If You Were a Dinah Shore, My Love"

Looks like I will have one last publication before the end of the year. Gallery of Curiosities is slated to podcast my story "If You Were a Dinah Shore, My Love" as part of a double bill on Dec. 28. Mark your calendars!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

"For Duty and Humanity!"

Last night Turner Classic Movies played the 1934 hospital drama, "Men in White", which starred Clark Gable and Myrna Loy.

I pointed out to my wife that The Three Stooges parody , "Men in Black", is much better remembered than the film itself.

'Calling Dr. Howard Dr. Fine Dr. Howard" is one of the Stooges' best known catch phrases, and the ending - when they tear up the intercom and finally silence it by pulling out revolvers and shooting the vacuum tube that is still chattering ("Oy, they got me!") is a trope of striking back at technology.
"Men in Black" was the third short made by the Stooges for Columbia and introduced a lot of the business they used in the 187 other films they later made, until 1959.

Ironically, "Men in Black" received an Academy Award nomination, in the Best Short Subject category. while the film it parodied didn't received any nominations - although it was very commercially successful.

Years later, the title "Men in Black" was co-opted by a totally different series of films.

The final irony? In 1998 National Lampoon made a straight-to-television parody of the Will Smith vehicle, and called it "Men in White".

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Not a bad year

I've had eight short stories published this year - which might seem like a lot, but I also had eight published in 2004, 2007, 2009, and 2014.

I had 14 in 2012, eleven in 2011, and ten in 2005.

I only had two stories in 2008, but one of them was "The Witch of Waxahachie" in Jim Baen's Universe.

I've had a story listed in the Honorable Mentions in the back of Gardner Dozois' annual "Best of" collection eleven times.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Updated bio

In anticipation of the upcoming publication of my debut novel from WordFire Press, "Another Girl, Another Planet", I had to update my biography, so if anyone is interested, here it is (I have also posted my officious mug shot):

Lou Antonelli started writing fiction in middle age; his first story was published in 2003 when he was 46. He’s had 103 short stories published in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, India and Portugal in venues such as Asimov's Science Fiction, Jim Baen's Universe, Tales of the Talisman, Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine, Greatest Uncommon Denominator (GUD), Daily Science Fiction, Buzzy Mag, and Omni Reboot, among many others.

His first professional science fiction short story, “A Rocket for the Republic” (Asimov’s Science Fiction Sept. 2005) was the last story accepted by Editor Gardner Dozois before he retired after 19 years.

His 100th published short story “The Yellow Flag” (Sci-Phi Journal Aug. 2016) has the record for fastest acceptance in genre fiction. It was written, submitted and accepted between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on May 6, 2015

His story “Great White Ship”, originally published in Daily Science Fiction, was a 2013 finalist for the Sidewise Award for alternate history. His short story “On a Spiritual Plain”, originally published in Sci Phi Journal, was a finalist for the Hugo award in 2015.

His collections include “Fantastic Texas” published in 2009; “Texas & Other Planets” published in 2010; and “The Clock Struck None” and “Letters from Gardner”, both published in 2014.

A Massachusetts native, Antonelli moved to Texas in 1985 and is married to Dallas native Patricia (Randolph) Antonelli. They have three adopted furbaby children, Millie, Sugar and Peltro Antonelli..

He is Managing Editor of The Clarksville (Tx.) Times.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Journalism anniversary

By the way, I just celebrated the 47th anniversary of my start in journalism. I submitted my first newspaper article to the local weekly newspaper, The Billerica (Mass.) News, in November 1969. It was an account of an overnight hike and camping trip by my Boy Scout Troop. I wrote it out by hand and the newspaper published it.

It didn't have a byline and at the next Scout meeting the adult leaders were confused as all heck because no one could figure who wrote it. They were a bit startled when I 'fessed up. I was 12 years old and a Second Class Scout.

My next story had a byline, and I've been at it ever since. I still have the original clipping, too. Here is the text:

"Troop 50 goes hiking

"On November 28, Troop 50, which is sponsored by the First Congregational Church, on Andover Road, held its annual November Hike This year it was held in Buddy style, scouts being assigned to partners, and hiking in two's. The route began at the First Congregational Church, wound around Farmers Lane, ascended up Fox Hill, and went down to the gravel pits off Pond St. Once there, the partners set up separate camps, using large sheets of plastic for shelter.

"All cooking was done without utensils, meaning no pots, pans, knives, forks, etc. At first it seemed hard, but the newer scouts soon got the knack of it.

"After eating breakfast Saturday morning, the scouts broke camp, some hiking back to their homes, others leaving in cars. The trip was well enjoyed by the 20 plus scouts who attended, and they are looking forward to the same trip next year."

Side Note: It was my first overnight camping trip and the weather turned colder than expected - below freezing, in fact. As a result, I received a "Polar Bear" award with my very first scout patch.

I had taken blankets for the camp out, but as a result of the freezing weather my father went to the local Sears and bought the best sleeping bag they had in stock, which I used for the rest of my Scouting career.

In fact, I still have it. It is the literally the oldest personal artifact I own.

Friday, November 25, 2016

I am deeply honored

Well, since I have his explicit permission to quote him, there's no reason not to disclose that it's Larry Niven who's read "Another Girl, Another Planet" and said "I loved it. Brilliant ideas well told."

Look for "Another Girl, Another Planet", coming out soon from WordFire Press.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Some stats on my short fiction:

103 stories published in 13 years.

Four collections: Fantastic Texas, Texas & Other Planets, The Clock Struck None, Letters From Gardner.

Eleven honorable mentions in The Year's Best Science Fiction.

One Sidewise finalist.

One Hugo finalist.

Third Place, Asimov's Readers Poll

One foreign language publication.

First story published in first issue of a pro-rate publication.

Last story accepted by Gardner Dozois before he retired from Asimov's.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Upcoming publications

I have a few stories being published in quick succession in the near future.

First,"Three Twilight Zone Variations on a High School Reunion" is being published in The Third Spectral Book of Horror Stories, whose release date is Monday - Halloween, of course.

My flash "If You Were a Dinah Shore, My Love" should be coming out in the Curious Gallery podcast fairly soon.

"Texas Leaves" is on the way in the Victory Fiction anthology "Freedom's Light".

Both "Dinah Shore" and "Texas Leaves" are alternate histories.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

"The Revenge of the Internet"

OK, the big problem with social media - which I think everyone recognizes - is that it allows you to attack or insult people with impunity. it unleashes our worst nature. We can get away with saying things to people we would never say to their face, or even on the phone, and we can do it across great distances.

SO... imagine in the future, after a societal collapse - with our current technology inoperative and no rule of law - people seek out and exact revenge on others who attacked them and lambasted them on the internet years earlier.

"Revenge of the Internet" would make a darkly-humorous anthology of short stories, don't you think?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The spin rack is still making a comeback

As some of you may - or may not - know, I have a personal policy that, when I stop in a discount store such as Dollar General or Family Dollar, I will always buy an s-f mass market paperback to encourage them to stock the genre.

I learned from Tom Doherty in 2009, when I interviewed him for an article that was published in the SFWA Bulletin, that the people who maintain the spin rack pay attention to what types of books sell.

Almost a year ago, on Nov. 29, 2015, I wrote on this blog ("Help the spin rack make a comeback") how my efforts - at least at the Dollar General store closest to where I worked - had paid off. There were so many s-f titles being stocked they cleared shelf space for them and put all the other genres in the spin rack.

I still follow my policy, and this evening I stopped at the Dollar General store in Blossom, Texas, - which I don't think I have ever patronized before - and was pleasantly surprised to see they had a fine selection of s-f paperbacks, and I was quite happy to pick up this little gem by Harry Harrison.

The authors don't benefit much personally from these remaindered sales, but I'd like to think they have an overall uplifting effect on the genre. Who knows, some kid may spent a buck he was planning to use for a candy bar on one of these books, get hooked, and in 20 or 30 years become a great and famous author?

"Texas Leaves"

"Freedom's Light" is a forthcoming anthology from Victory Fiction publishing, It will include my short story "Texas Leaves". In this alternate history, George H.W. Bush is defeated for the presidency by Michael Dukakis in 1988. The Soviet Union never falls because Dukakis helps prop it up to insure "world stability."

In 2000 son George W. Bush makes a run at the presidency. Here's how the story kicks off:

“The fall foliage is stunning this year. Texas hardly ever sees any color in the fall."

The Governor turned to his Advisor. “Beautiful, isn’t it?”

“Yes, and it’s ironic,” said the Advisor. “The landscape looks lovely, and our future never looked bleaker.”

“Are the polls still open in Florida?”

“Yes, and President Clinton said they will stay open until everyone gets a chance to vote.” The Advisor stared at his drink. “They knew it was going to be close, they were sampling the ballots already cast, and now they’ve stolen the election. The polls should have closed 12 hours ago. People are being allowed to vote multiple times.”

“We came so close,” said the Governor. “Maybe next time.”

“There isn’t going to be a next time. After Clinton comes Gore, and he’ll crack down on us more than ever.” The Advisor stood up. “We need to face reality. After eight years of Dukakis and now eight years of Clinton, the U.S. will be just another Third World despotism under Russia’s thumb.”

“Well then, if we can’t save the U.S., then maybe Texas can save itself.”

He nodded knowingly at the Advisor

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"Time Like a Rope"

"Time Like a Rope", published by Silver Blade magazine, is my 102nd short story publication since 2003, my seventh this year. My stories published so far this year are:

1. “Captain of the Clouds” – Aurora Wolf, January. 2016
2. “Higher Powers” – Sci-Phi Journal, February 2016
3. “The Milky Way Dance Hall” – Decision Points anthology. May 2016
4. “Lone Star, Lost Star” – Fiction on the Web, July 31, 2016
5. “The Yellow Flag” – Sci-Phi Journal, August 2016
6. “And He Threw His Hands Up in the Air” – Siren’s Call, No. 28 August 2016
7. “Time Like a Rope” – Silver Blade magazine, October 2016

Monday, October 10, 2016

My updated biography

I've already had a request for a biography for a 2017 convention. I took a few moments over the weekend and updated the biography file I keep on my desktop. I seldom use all of this, but it covers all the main points I think are of interest. Whenever I need a bio or blurb, I just cut and past to the appropriate length. But here is the whole thing:
Lou Antonelli started writing fiction in middle age; his first story was published in 2003 when he was 46. He’s had short stories published in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, India and Portugal in venues such as Asimov's Science Fiction, Jim Baen's Universe, Tales of the Talisman, Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine, Greatest Uncommon Denominator (GUD), Daily Science Fiction, Buzzy Mag, and Omni Reboot, among many others.

His collections include “Fantastic Texas” published in 2009; “Texas & Other Planets” published in 2010; and “The Clock Struck None” and “Letters from Gardner”, both published in 2014. His debut novel, the retro-futurist alternate history “Another Girl, Another Planet”, is slated for release later in 2016 by WordFire Press.

His story “Great White Ship”, originally published in Daily Science Fiction, was a 2013 finalist for the Sidewise Award for alternate history. His short story “On a Spiritual Plain”, originally published in Sci Phi Journal, was a finalist for the Hugo award in 2015.

His first professional science fiction short story, “A Rocket for the Republic” (Asimov’s Science Fiction Sept. 2005) was the last story accepted by Editor Gardner Dozois before he retired after 19 years.

“The Yellow Flag” his 100th published short story (Sci-Phi Journal Aug. 2016) set the record for all-time fastest turnaround in genre fiction. It was written, submitted and accepted between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on May 6, 2015.

A Massachusetts native, Antonelli moved to Texas in 1985 and is married to Dallas native Patricia (Randolph) Antonelli. They have three adopted furbaby children, Millie, Sugar and Peltro Antonelli..

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Lou, Louis and Luigi

Some of you may know I have a Facebook page where I post purely personal things. It uses the name "Lou AntonellI". It is used mostly for outreach to people interested in me as an author.

Originally, this page was called "Author Lou Antonelli" and the other one simply "Lou Antonelli", but I had to change it last year. When the Hugo nominations hit and the Puppy Kickers started their campaign against dissident authors, someone complained to Facebook that I was a liar because "Author Lou Antonelli" isn't my real name.

Facebook said I had to change it, but I couldn't have two Facebook pages both named "Lou Antonelli", so I changed personal one to my proper name, which is "Louis Antonelli".

(A colleague once asked - in light of the fact my middle name is Sergio - if my first name was really Luigi. Actually, although I am named for my paternal grandfather, who WAS named Luigi, my parents thankfully had the sense to bestow the English version of the name on me.)

If you are ever interested in keeping track of my personal life without any reference to literature and such, check out my other Facebook page, which can find here.. You'll read a lot about my wife, my dogs, my lasagna, and all the other stuff that is important to me.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Some positive developments

Patricia and I have had some good news recently. After being laid off last April, Patricia started work three weeks ago at a new job, and it is in education again - she is teaching four-year olds in the Head Start program in Texarkana.

She was a middle school teacher up until last year, but quit because of the horrible working conditions at the local school district. Most of last year she worked as an office manager. Now she is back in a school, and she's enjoys the job very much. It's a bit of a commute, but worth it.

I've been commuting since the start of last year 46 miles each way to my current newspaper job, but that will be coming to an end. After some searching, and a few missteps, we closed on a house yesterday in the city where I work, Clarksville. So my commute will be ending while now Patricia has the commute.

It took some creativity to get the new house. It was a foreclosure and we had to bid in an auction - but we won, and got it at a great price. It has over 2300 square feet, four bedrooms and three baths. It was built in 1931.

Because of the auction date we didn't qualify for a conventional mortgage - we haven't been able to sell our current home, and we didn't 't have the income level to carry two mortgages at the time, which was before Patricia got her current job.

But a local bank gave us mortgage instead, and so everything worked out.

We are in the process of getting the utilities turned on and having inspections done (being purchased via an auction, it was an "as is" sale, although we were able to inspect the house ourselves beforehand.)

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Latest sale

I'm proud to announce that TANSTAAFL Press will be publishing my story "A Choice of Weapons" as part of its forthcoming "Enter the Apocalypse" trilogy.

They describe is thusly:

"For all of you fans of apocalyptic fiction, TANSTAAFL Press is planning an anthology along that line. We have open call for stories from people all over the world.

"The first book in the anthology series will be Enter the Apocalypse. This will be devoted to apocalypses just starting.

"The second book in the series will be “Enter the Aftermath.” This will be devoted to the height or burnout of an apocalypse.

"The final book in this series will be “Enter the Rebirth.” What is the new normal after the apocalypse is over.

"We have already accepted several stories that run a wide range of destructive scenarios from a creeping mold that won’t creep any longer to a religious disaster to the singularity that goes horribly right. We plan on publishing this circa December this year."

Saturday, October 01, 2016

The 3rd Spectral Book of Horror Stories – Table of Contents Announcement

SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

After announcing two days ago that submissions have officially opened for the 4th and 5th Spectral Book of Horror Stories, we’re proud to reveal the incredible Table of Contents for The 3rd Spectral Book of Horror Stories, edited by Joseph Rubas, with cover art by Holly Madew.

Let’s hand over to Joseph Rubas to announce the Table of Contents:


In April 2016, Gary Compton, of Tickety Boo Press, who had published my second short story collection After Midnight (2014) approached me about editing the third entry in the Spectral Book of Horror Stories series. “You’re kidding, right?” I asked. To me at least, the Spectral Book of Horror Stories is the top of the top. Sure, you might not get rich and famous after having your work in one, but growing up, I loved horror anthologies, especially the Pan Book of Horror Stories and the Zebra Book of Horror Stories. I read every single anthology I could get my hand on, and discovered work, by authors both known and unknown, that stays with me to this day. I loved the covers, the stories, the yellowed pages. The Spectral Book of Horror Stories has always reminded me of those old collections, and to be asked to edit it…it was like going from playing guitar in a suburban garage somewhere to playing Madison Square Gardens.

It was intimidating, but I think I did fairly well. Or rather, the authors did fairly well.

Okay, they did really well.

Here, then, is the table of contents for the Third Spectral Book of Horror Stories. It runs the gamut from psychological horror (“Portfolio’, “Disappearing in the Desert”) to supernatural horror (“It Knocks”, “Cotton Face”) to light science fiction (“The Eyes Have It”). Some of these writers have never been published before, and some have been in the business for over fifty years (William F. Nolan, who, with the late George Clayton Johnson, authored the novel Logan’s Run, will be 89 next spring). I am proud of them all.

Okay, enough. Here it is in all its glory:

Table of Contents

Foreword: A Word on Fear

Portfolio – A. H. Day

Dysfunctional – William F. Nolan

Playthings – Eugene Johnson

Beyond the Grave – Alex Marco

Three Twilight Zone Variations on a High School Reunion – Lou Antonelli

Sins of the Father – Mark Allan Gunnells

Cotton Face – Dan Weatherer

Disappearing in the Desert – Billie Sue Mosiman

It Knocks – Paul Longmate

The Eyes Have It – Tim Major

Boat Trip – David A. Riley

And the Woman Loved Her Cats – S. L. Edwards

Lacey – David Wellington

The Day the Leash Gave Way – Robert Clarke

The Door into Envy – Adrian Cole

Penelope’s Song – Samuel Marzioli

Government Work – Richard Farren Barber

Static – Dave-Brendon de Burgh

“Grave ‘Neath a Willow” – Alexander G. Tozzi

Trigger Fate – Lisa Morton

Coulrophila – Jason V. Brock


The 3rd Spectral Book of Horror Stories will launch on October 31st – keep an eye on this site and our Facebook Page for continuing announcements.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Blast from the past

The only time among my many writings for my college newspaper I did a book review, it was of James Gunn's "Alternate Worlds". I have cut and pasted it below.
It was originally published in the Columbia University Daily Spectator on April 28, 1977. If you would like to see the original issue archives on-line, here is a link (I shared the features page with Henry Kissinger and Iggy Pop?)

A guide to the cosmos
Alternate Worlds: The Illustrated History of Science Fiction by James Gunn (A&W Visual Library, $7.95)
The appeal of Alternate Worlds extends beyond the narrow confines of the science fiction genre. It is an interesting work of illustrated history by noted science fiction author, James Gunn. Though issued in hardcover in 1975, its lofty $29.95 asking price kept many from looking into this scholastic and philosophical work.
Since its issuance in softcover at a more reasonable figure, both science fiction buffs and the genre's casual readers can add the book to their shelves.
Gunn has done his homework. The book traces the origins of science fiction ideas from Homer to Vonnegut, and presents the basic concepts that led to the recognition of science fiction as a legitimate art form under the broader category of fantasy. It is also a graphically pleasing book, with 85 full color plates and 635 in black and white. The color illustrations are science fiction pulp magazine covers. (If you are old enough to remember when the science fiction pulps were in their heyday, you may recall that these covers could get bizarre at times, but were always interesting.)
The black and white illustrations are weighted heavily towards author's portraits, with many illustrations from famous science fiction stories thrown in. Gunn's opus is a celebration of the fact that in recent years science fiction has burst from the ghetto of pulp magazines and monster movies, and captured an ever-widening audience. But Gunn is a science fiction writer himself, and it becomes apparent that he is too close to properly assess the role of the genre in the modern world.
While it is true that science fiction has gained the recognition it so long deserved, it is pompous for Gunn to say "the world has finally caught up with science fiction" and that it is "the most relevant fiction of our time."
Once he draws away from philosophizing and turns to historical narrative, Gunn is on firm ground. He explores the development of the genre, particularly after the start of the industrial revolution, and offers solid opinions as the place of the authors in the development of the modern idiom. Only as he draws closer to the present era (and his contemporaries) does his narrative begin to falter, mostly because he refuses to objectively judge their place in the history of the genre. Finally, he resorts to an embarrassingly redundant listing of names, with no value judgments whatsoever.
Gunn is commendable in the degree to which he follows the true science fiction line in this history. Considering how indefinite the boundaries of the genre are, he does a wonderful job of separating the science fiction from the fantasy, so that writers like Vonnegut and H. P. Lovecraft are only mentioned in conjunction with the true science fiction they wrote.
Despite his weakness in placing the role of science fiction in modern society, his reluctance to judge contemporary authors and considering the size of the project undertaken, Gunn manages to produce a well-researched and coherent history. Alternate Worlds is likely to be used as a reference for years, and it is a piece of interesting reading, to boot.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Staying at home

I have many friends in the s-f world who are having a good time at Fencon in Dallas this weekend. I attended five conventions this year, in Austin, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Chattanooga and Williamsburg, Va. and although conventions can be a lot of fun, I'm happy to be home this weekend.

I keep a busy schedule in my life, and often I need time on weekends to do personal things; when I travel to a convention I lose that time at home. Sometimes it causes personal projects to be put off for weeks.

I didn't attend Fencon last year; I went to so many conventions earlier in the year I didn't want to attend any after Labor Day. I didn't get an invite to be a guest this year.

I also didn't get an invite to be a guest at ConDFW, which was held Feb. 12-14, so this year marks the first time I didn't attend either Dallas convention.

One of my run-of-the mill lesser lasagnas.
My retro-futurist alternate history "Another Girl, Another Planet" should be out by the end of the year/start of 2017, so I will probably go to a bunch of conventions next year. So far I already have invites back to Ravencon in Virginia and LibertyCon in Chattanooga. I pretty much will accept any invites I get. If you have a recommendation for a convention, please let me know.

Those of you who attended Conquest in Kansas City may recall I brought home-made lasagna for the reception held in the con suite for the debut of the "Decision Points" anthology. That was on a Friday night; I've been told that for the rest of the convention people kept coming into the con suite asking "Is there any more lasagna?"

I will bring lasagna to any con I go to next year - unless I fly - so there is an incentive to invite me right there. If you have never tasted my lasagna, it's universally conceded to be the best in the world.
As we say in Texas, "It ain't bragging if you can do it."

Friday, September 23, 2016

Being fair

In the spirit of being fair, I want to make explicit my appreciation to Adam-Troy Castro for taking down his post about the claim I was the brilliant criminal mastermind who had Jim Wright's 9/11 post removed (temporarily) from Facebook.

I don't know where this rumor started, but I suspect it was projection by someone that was quickly reported as fact. I give Mr. Castro credit for having the integrity to concede his sources were unverifiable and to remove the posting.

I think his position could be summed up as - paraphrasing here - "Lou's done enough goofy crap to be lambasted about, let's not attack him for stuff he's not done."

Which is a perfectly reasonable position.

He also poked me quite fairly that in mentioning him I was being careless in inserting the hyphen between the "Troy" and "Castro" rather than between "Adam" and "Troy" - sloppy writing for someone who edits a newspaper.

Fair cop, there.

In my defense - by way of an explanation rather than a justification - I don't pay nearly as much attention to Facebook postings as what goes into a (pardon the expression) a real newspaper.
But he did give me a chuckle.

He was also good about - when some of his fans started "piling on" me - admonishing them not to go overboard. I had a twinge of recognition there, because I've dealt with the same problem with my fans, sort of on the opposite side of the street.a

Friday, September 16, 2016

A real mistake

OK, you know any time I express an opinion that someone like David Gerrold or Adam Troy-Castro disagrees with, their minions will mumble "That's a mistake. It will hurt your career."

Let me make my position clear. I don't have a science fiction and fantasy writing career. I'm a proud and happy small-town newspaper editor. I write fiction as a hobby, a sideline. I'm almost embarrassed sometimes that I've had more success as a talented amateur who writes sporadically than some people who tried long and hard for so many years. I suppose it's a testament to the utility of getting the English language into your bones. I've been writing for publication in community newspapers since I was 12.

For better or worse, whether anyone likes it or not, people like Gerrold and Troy-Castro are REAL s-f authors. It's their job, their metier, as the French say. Don't look to me as an opinion leader.

You want to hear a story about a real mistake? Back in the summer of 1975, I was working at a newspaper in Plymouth County, Massachusetts. I got a phone call from the custodian at the War Memorial Auditorium in Plymouth. He said he just learned of something that would be big news in a few months.

I was real busy at the time, and I asked him if I could call him back and get the details in a little while. And then I forgot to call him back.

Summer ends, I go off to college in New York City, I'm a freshman at Columbia University, walking down the street. I pick up a copy of the New York Post for Nov. 1, 1975, at the Mill Luncheonette, and there's a headline:

"Dylan make surprising start of Rolling Thunder Tour in Plymouth, Massachusetts."

THEN I remembered I never returned the call. That was what he wanted to tell me. That fellow was the guy who did the bookings at the auditorium.

I could have scooped the world on how the Rolling Thunder Tour was going to start by four months!

Now THAT'S a REAL mistake!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The mind boggles

Jim Wright should be remembered in the s-f world as the sanctimonious poser who lovingly crafted in his workshop those wooden ass-terisks handed out at the Hugo ceremony last year.

Since he doesn't recognize how hateful and disrespectful that was, he can't be trusted as either an honest or intelligent person.

Wright served in the Navy and seems intent on being known as the most PC and abusive veteran in the U.S.

He has a blog and in marking the anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attack, put forth a emotional screed that has been making the rounds. In his peroration, he states:

"Frankly, I have had enough of 9-11. Fuck 9-11. I'm not going to watch the shows. I'm not going to any of the memorials.

"I'm not going to the 9-11 sales at Wal-Mart. I don't want to hear about 9-11. I for damned sure am not interested in watching politicians of either party try to out 9-11 each other.

"I'm tired of this national 9-11 PTSD. I did my bit for revenge, I went to war, I'll remember the dead in my own time in my own way.

"I'm not going to shed a damned tear today."

Yeah, he has his right to free speech, and I have the right to denounce him, too.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

It's nice to still have free speech, even when it's bullshit

From John Scalzi's Twitter Feed today:

"Today has been a reminder of the irony that those concerned about the "extinction" of the white race are the best argument for its demise."

Yeah, he "went Hollywood" years ago - gets a swelled head from being a successful writer, suddenly thinks he's an opinion leader on stuff he knows nothing about.

Before Scalzi, a writer was judged by the quality of their work first, and then - if applicable - their politics and faith would be cited. Now, you start with citing a writer's faith and politics before you decide if they are a good writer - which leads to ludicrous assertions such as that Larry Correia isn't a real writer. Of course, Larry laughs all the way to the bank.

Scalzi perfected the racket of finding out about someone through the SFWA, and then attacking them on his personal blog. The SFWA had legitimate deniability, but once Scalzi learned you weren't a doctrinaire leftist and atheist, he's rip you a second one somewhere else.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Been away for a while

I left on Wednesday, August 24, to the East Coast and a respite visit with my mother while my sister took a few vacation days. I got back to Texas Monday, August 29, and had to hit the ground running at work because of the time I was away from the office. My time is also being eaten up as my wife and I work on the closing for a new home in the city where I work, which would end the 46-mile (one way) commute I have been making since January of last year.

Since my last post here, I sold two stories. I received word the day I arrived in Virginia that Silver Pen will publish my tail-biting time travel story "Time Like a Rope", and The Gallery of Curiosities podcast on Wednesday bought "If You Were a Dinah Shore, My Love".

Meanwhile The Siren's Call ezine has published "And He Threw His Hands Up in the Sky".

Speaking of "If You Were a Dinah Shore, My Love", it may seem a little strange, but you'd be surprised how often stories start with the title first.

Snappy or catchy titles have a way of prodding a good writer's creativity.

Back in 2003, when I was just starting out, I tried coming up with phrases that I could hang a story on. It often was as simple as flipping randomly through a dictionary.

One phrase that stuck to the wall was "Cast Iron Dybbuk" and I successfully wrote a story to go with the title. I sold it to Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine and it was published in the Summer of 2005.

In 2004, the first time I ever met Joe Lansdale, he told me he does the same thing, and in fact one of his bigger successes in short stories came when he wrote a story to match the title "Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man's Back".

I bring this up to say that while many people have held forth about Rachel Swirsky's story "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love" during the past few years, all that talk led me to come up with the abysmal pun "If You Were a Dinah Shore, My Love" - but then I was able to write a story to match it, and you know what - It turned out pretty good.

So as the saying goes, "It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good."

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Con fiascoes of the past

I attended my first s-f con in 2003, when I was 46. During one of the panels, I noticed one of the authors kept refilling his water glass from under the table - despite the fact the water pitcher was ON the table.

Innocent me. I soon realized he was keeping a bottle of vodka under the table.

I once moderated a panel where one member - who was admittedly very knowledgeable about the subject - refused to yield the floor and was so enthusiastic that everyone, panelists and audience alike, had to let him hold forth for the full hour.

I mean, short of mugging him and stuffing him in a barrel, it was obvious we would not be able to shut him up.

One time I was on a panel where a few of the other panelists were good friends with each other. They chatted among themselves and pretty much forgot I was there at the end of the table. After a while I realized I wasn't going to be able to participate, and I slipped off and into the audience where I could relax.

It took them ten minutes to realize I was even gone.

One time I was moderating a panel when, from next door, another moderator came in - saying that his panel has poor attendance - and said that we should combine the two unrelated panels, which he then did on his own without waiting for anyone's feedback.

This was a literal hijack of my panel, and it was pretty astounding. I was dumbfounded at the size of the ego of the douchebag. He essentially wasn't satisfied with the size of his audience, so he stole mine.

I was in the audience for a panel where the moderator tried to keep all the panelists - as well as the audience - engaged. One author, thinking that he had cut her off at one point, therefore went on strike and thereafter, every time he tried he tried to draw her back into the discussion, would only say, in a huff, "I like bunnies."

So yeah, a lot of crazy crap happens at conventions. But in all the cases I just mentioned, nobody was expelled from the con.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Compute this!

I received an interesting request today, forwarded by Jason Rennie, regarding my short story "On a Spiritual Plain" published in Sci Phi Journal last year.

Here's some excerpts:

"I'm a final year undergraduate student at...  I'm seeking permission to use the text of the story for a special project as part of my BSc in Computational Science. For my project, I'm hoping to use Hugo-nominated short fiction from 2013 and 2014 to train a machine learning classifier to identify the type of stories nominated by the voting bloc(s) known as the "puppies".

"I then hope to test the classifier with the Hugo-nominated short fiction from 2015 and 2016. I'm interested in whether there are any distinct characteristics of puppy-nominated stories as compared to non-puppy-nominated stories that are identifiable through computational methods and, if so, what characteristics those methods use to make their classification.

"I'm now seeking your permission to use this copy of the story for the purposes described above.

"I will not share or distribute the story in any fashion and will copy it only for the purposes of format conversion. This project is purely for educational purposes and has no commercial applications. I will credit in full all of the stories used in the project.

"If you are the copyright holder for this work and you consent to my using it in this fashion then I would be very grateful if you could confirm this in writing."

I told Jason to reply that I have no problem with this use of my story. I doubt this budding Clyde Crashcup will find any identifiable characteristics unique to Sad Puppy stories. The whole issue was a social and political dispute, not a literary one.

On the other hand, he may just be out to do another hatchet job, though I'd be hard-pressed to figure out why anyone would care anymore, since the Puppy Kickers clearly won.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Dragon finalists announced

I got my email last night with the link to vote for the Dragon awards. Looking over the finalists, it appears the Dragons are what the Hugos claim to be, or used to be - a inclusive recognition of the best speculative fiction from the previous year.

There's a wide variety of authors and works selected, and a number of my Facebook chums appear.

BTW, I was not eligible in any Dragon category this year - my only published fiction in 2015 were short stories, and the short story category was handled through a separate but associated Award, the Eugie Foster Memorial Award for Short Fiction. Nominations for that are only accepted from editors and publishers.

Those who nominated works for 2016 included John Joseph Adams, Mike Allen, Scott H. Andrews, Michele Barasso, Neil Clarke, Ellen Datlow, Charles Coleman Finlay, Niall Harrison, Emily Hockaday, Michael Kelly, Jonathan Laden, Mike Resnick, Scott Roberts, Edmund R. Schubert, Jason Sizemore, Jonathan Strahan, Lynne M Thomas, and Sean Wallace.

Yeah, looks like another award I'm backballed from.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Well, this is a new one...

A few months ago I saw that that the DragonCon alternate history track was seeking panel proposals. I jumped at the chance to suggest a topic near and dear to my heart, Secret History, and I submitted a proposal for a panel to be called "Secret History: Bet You Didn't Know It Happened That Way".

That was the last time I thought about it, I never heard anything else - until yesterday.

When I got my panel confirmation.

I never got an invite to be a panelist at DragonCon, and I never bought a membership. I went to five cons between April and July, so I was pretty full up with cons, and never really thought about DragonCon (I've never been there).

I'm proud to have helped come up with a panel topic, but I've sent my regrets.

The panel will be held at America's Mart 204-Room J (4th Floor Monday at 1:00pm (last panel of the Con for that room).

I'm glad to have helped in some small way!

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Today's philosophical musing

Sometimes personal integrity prods you into supporting a cause or proposition or candidate also supported by people who hate you.

But you can't go through life doing things based on what other people think or trying to please other people.

So just go ahead and be true to yourself. Your true friends will understand you; your false friends will betray you; your true enemies will mock you; and a few times - yes, a few times - some of your enemies will realize you're a person of integrity.

Then, they still may not like you - but they will respect you.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

How to write, edit and sell a story in four hours

Sci-Phi Journal published my short story "The Yellow Flag" on Monday. This is the story that I started one day after lunch when I realized I had some free time on my hands. I think it took an hour and a half to write - it's only 1,842 words long - and then I spent a half hour proofing it before I shot it off to Jason Rennie.

I thought it was the kind of story Jason might like, and I was right. I think he emailed me with the acceptance by 4:45 p.m.

I really doubt I'll ever top that record for a quick turnaround.

Now, like they say on the commercials, don't do this at home - and don't feel bad if you can't do it yourself.

First, being a journalist by profession, I can write fast and fairly clean. That's not to say the story wouldn't have benefited from more editing. But heck, when I looked at it, I said to myself "I think this could be published as is", and I sent it off to see what happens.

"The Yellow Flag" is my 100th published short story, and it is only the THIRD to be accepted on the first submission (the other two were to Asimov's and Daily Science Fiction).

Secondly, it helps to know your market, and having already been published in Sci Phi Journal, I had an idea in advance that it might be a good fit.

The story was written, submitted and accepted on May 6, 2015. Even with a semi-pro market like Sci Phi Journal it took over a year to see publication.

Here's a link if you haven't read it already.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The Three Amigos

I had a great time at ArmadilloCon this past weekend, and on Saturday I had a chance to visit with both Joe Lansdale and Howard Waldrop.

We got together for a photo in the Dealers Room.

 Even with the publication of my 100th short story Monday, I'm still dead last among the three of us; I think we probably collectively have about 500 short stories published since 1972, which is when Howard first hit print.

Cover reveal for "Another Girl, Another Planet"

I did my cover reveal for "Another Girl, Another Planet" Saturday at my reading at Armadillocon.

This is the back cover blurb:

Dave Shuster is confronted by secret government agents over a photo taken by a Mars lander of a graveyard complete with crosses on Mars. The secret is out, and the conspiracy is revealed!

Shuster claims that—in an alternate timeline—he was a low-level bureaucrat in the administration of a joint U.S.-Soviet Mars colony. In that timeline, the Cold War takes a very different turn—largely influenced by Admiral Robert Heinlein, who was allowed to return to Naval service following World War II.

And then Shuster is thrown into a power vacuum immediately upon his arrival on the Mars Colony in 1985. He finds himself fighting a rogue industrialist and is caught up in a murder mystery involving the illegal use of robot technology

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Latest biography

Jason Rennie at Sci Phi Journal is preparing to publish my short story "The Yellow Flag" next Monday. I supplied him with my latest biography to accompany it,. and here it is, for the record.


Lou Antonelli started writing fiction in middle age; his first story was published in 2003 when he was 46. He’s had short stories published in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, India and Portugal in venues such as Asimov's Science Fiction, Jim Baen's Universe, Tales of the Talisman, Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine, Greatest Uncommon Denominator (GUD), Daily Science Fiction, Buzzy Mag, and Omni Reboot, among many others.

His collections include “Fantastic Texas” published in 2009; “Texas & Other Planets” published in 2010; and “The Clock Struck None” and “Letters from Gardner”, both published in 2014. His debut novel, the retro-futurist alternate history “Another Girl, Another Planet”, is slated for release later in 2016 by WordFire Press.

His story “Great White Ship”, originally published in Daily Science Fiction, was a 2013 finalist for the Sidewise Award for alternate history. His short story “On a Spiritual Plain”, originally published in Sci Phi Journal, was a finalist for the Hugo award in 2015.

A Massachusetts native, he moved to Texas in 1985 and is married to Dallas native Patricia (Randolph) Antonelli. They have three adopted furbaby children, Millie, Sugar and Peltro Antonelli.

“The Yellow Flag” is his 100th published short story, and probably sets the record for all-time fastest turnaround in genre fiction. It was written, submitted and accepted between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on May 6, 2015.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Good news greeted with silence

Signed the contract this morning for "The Yellow Flag" to be published online by Sci Phi Journal on August 1st.

This is the story than went from start to acceptance in four hours.

Here's an interesting sidelight: I discussed this story at the recent LibertyCon during a panel, and later mentioned it both here and on my blog, "This Way to Texas", a week ago on July 17.

File 770 picked up the link last Sunday, with the comment "FAST WORK. Did Lou Antonelli maybe set a record?"

Make of it what you will, but while the people who comment on Flie 770 are usually quite free with their opinions, there wasn't a single comment about this. Which confirms the common observation about the people who hang out there, to wit: If you can't say anything evil about someone, don't say anything at all.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Bad news from a nice guy

Bill Crider is a genial, even-tempered man, a retired school teacher and a long-time writer of imaginative and enjoyable speculative fiction. He is prolific author and a frequent convention guest. His short story "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" is a finalist for this year's Sidewise Award in alternate history.

If you have ever met him or know him, you know he is always friendly, helpful, and approachable.

Like so many other of his friends, I was dismayed earlier in the week that he reported he had a potentially serious health problem. He posted on his blog Tuesday that his doctor ordered him to go to the hospital immediately because he thought he might be having kidney failure.

He posted Wednesday "Not kidneys. Very likely lymphoma. Biopsy tomorrow."

Bill is one of the few people of whom anyone can say "He's a nice guy" and not be suspected of the slightest sarcasm. Like so many other people today, he is in my thoughts and prayers. I hope he pulls through this health alert with his flags flying and his usual friendly grin.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

An oldie but goodie

Hey there, Lou Antonelli fans! I thought I'd link to this today.

The January 2009 issue of Ray Gun Revival is still available on-line. It includes my short story "The Silver Dollar Saucer", which was reprinted in both of my collections - "Fantastic Texas" and "Texas and Other Planets" - as well as the 2013 "Raygun Chronicles" anthology.

The story was originally accepted for publication by the Amazon Shorts program in 2007, but the fine print said authors accepted for the program had to also have books available through Amazon. My first collection, "Fantastic Texas", wasn't published until 2009, so Amazon withdrew the acceptance.

Amazon Shorts was Amazon's first attempt at publishing short fiction, and ran from 2005 to 2010.

"Ray Gun Revival" gave it a good home, and it's been popular ever since. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

It can be done

Those of you who attended the panel on short stories at LibertyCon that Friday may recall I mentioned that I wrote a story, submitted it, and received an acceptance in four hours.

That story is "The Yellow Flag" and it is being published on-line by Sci-Phi Journal on August 1st.

With publication scheduled of "Lone Star, Lost Star" by Fiction on the Web on July 31st, "The Yellow Flag" will be my 100th short story publication.

My 99th and 100th short story publications on two successive days.

By the way, "The Yellow Flag" was written the afternoon of May 6, 2015. It is the third story I have sold to Sci-Phi Journal; thanks goes to Publisher Jason Rennie.

As best I can remember, it is only the third story I have ever sold on its first submission. The first was "A Rocket for the Republic" in Asimov's in 2005; the second was "Double Exposure" in Daily Science Fiction in 2012.

"The technological equivalent of Pearl Harbor"

Back in the early 1990s I was the managing editor of the local newspaper in the city where the temporary headquarters of the Superconducting Super Collider were located - DeSoto, Texas.

The SSC itself was being constructed due south across the county line in Ellis County, and would encircle (underground) the county seat of Waxahachie. The labs and other facilities were supposed to move to the actual SSC site later.

Coverage of the construction of the SSC was an ongoing news item in my paper, until - of course - Congress cancelled the funding. My editorial criticizing the decision was quoted in The New York Times, and Sen. Phil Gramm quoted one of my lines in a speech, that it was "The technological equivalent of Pearl Harbor."

Years later - after I started a second career as a spec fic writer - I drew upon the experience as an inspiration and jumping off point for my short story "The Witch of Waxahachie", which Mike Resnick liked and Eric Flint bought for Jim Baen's Universe. It was published in April 2008.

Back in 2003 my wife and I bought some property in a tax resale auction as an investment. It has an undeveloped cabin, and over the years we have used it as long-term storage. We are finally selling it, and so yesterday I went to retrieve whatever was in there we wished to save.

Going through a briefcase of very old stuff, I found this button. I dusted it off and gave it a polish, and it looks good as new.

Sure brings back memories.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Back from LibertyCon

Jason Cordova giving blood
Libertycon is a great convention, and this was my first time to participate. I had two panels and they were a couple of the best panels I have ever participated in, I also ran into a lot of people for the first time and had a lot of great conversations.

My participation was limited somewhat because I made this into a family affair, bringing my wife Patricia as well as my little girl, Sugar. Because of that I didn't go to any parties or spent very little time in the Con Suite - Sugar being a dog.

The two panels I participated in at Libertycon were outstanding; large crowds and great participation.

Jody Lynn Nye moderated the panel at 4 p.m. Friday on the art of short story writing. I was joined by Scott W. Baker, Todd McCaffrey and Dan Thompson. The panelist were engaged and knowledgeable, I know the members of the audience picked up some great information.

I personally commended Nye afterwards for being a diligent moderator, it was one of the best jobs at it I've ever seen.

I moderated the panel at noon on Saturday on Retro-Futurist Alternate History. The attendance was even greater - the room was pretty full - and the panelists - Griffin Barber, Geoffrey Mandragora, Dan Thompson and James James L Young - were all full of ideas and enthusiasm. The audience seemed to enjoy it immensely!

I had a great time meeting some people in person for the first time - including Larry Correia and Arlan Andrews. Had a good time meeting some chums again, including Tully D. Roberts and Tom Trumpinski.

Larry Correia  is very friendly and open (and also quite busy); Tully D. Roberts  treated Patricia and myself to some delicious barbecue ribs and brisket (and Sugar got the bones, which made her one happy puppy camper); Jonathan LaForce cooked that great barbecue.

Other folks I ran into included Rich Weyand; old chums Brad Sinor and Sue Sinor; Ronald Zukowski; Gail Martin; Robert S. Evans; the "Jimmy Olsen" of the convention, Oleg Volk; Jonathan David Baird; Declan Finn; Arlan Andrews; Richard Groller; Alexander Moore; Larry Mitchell; and Jason Cordova, who I met while we were both giving blood.

There were a few people, such as Sarah A. Hoyt and Daniel M. Hoyt - who I was just able to say hi to as panels changed - or people I said hello to in passing by, like Toni Weisskopf and Jonna Hayden.

Those who can...

Never underestimate the mean-spirtedness and pettiness of some people. I suppose "Tales of the Otherverse" getting two nominations for the Sidewise award put some basement-dwelling douchebag's shorts in a twist; today someone tried to post an anonymous criticism of my story "Port Radium" on my blog, as a comment to a post from last September.

The "critique" was 628 words long, which is a good 16 percent of the length of the story being attacked. You wonder why such a smarty pants doesn't go ahead and write his/her own story?

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

A good example of a bad person

One thing I learned from the Sad Puppies debacle last year was never engage in a discussion in a venue you don't moderate.

Because the Puppy Kickers are spoiled brats who like to control things, having lived all their lives financially, socially or politically privileged. They've always had it their way, they don't know any other way. If you get into any discussion with them, they'll insult you and pile on.

One of the shittiest places to be trapped into a discussion at is File 770; as I've said in the past, Mike Glyer likes to cut and paste and mock people so they can held up to ridicule

Glyer excerpted the start of my post from Sunday "Causerie on Reaching 3000 Facebook Friends" a few days later. His tactic seems to have failed, there were few comments attacking me. I know it is hard for someone as socially inbred as Glyer to believe, but there may be a few people who understood what I was saying, and heck - who knows, anything is possible - some people might have agreed with me.

Finally, one last anonymous asshole weighed in and devoted his entire post attacking me. This "JJ" said"

"And the complete lack of self-awareness continues. There’s so much projection going on in that post, CUL could open his own theater."

I am quite aware of my own failings. I just don't believe in self-abasement before arrogant pricks like you. I AM entitled to my own opinion, and unlike you, I don't have Big Brother to stifle dissent for me, like you are trying to do. Did the Agitprop Bureau call you into action on this?

Nice try at cleverness with the cinema metaphor. You are more like an old-fashioned cassette tape - wound too tight and ready snap at any moment.

"Here’s a clue for your birthday, Lou, because you are obviously in dire need of one:"

It's Jan. 6, by the way. I'll be 60 next year.

"Hundreds of people didn’t de-Friend you on Facebook because they disagreed with your political opinions. They de-Friended you because you’ve repeatedly behaved like an epic-level asshole."

The defriendings mostly happened as soon as the Hugo finalists were announced, much before I lost my temper and flew off the handle. That was a while later.

"And those people who subsequently Friended you because you’ve repeatedly behaved like an epic-level asshole? You might want to think about that."

Ah, yes, short-attention span again. If you were intelligent and literate enough to read what I wrote accurately, you'd see what I said was that I built up my list again as I sent out Friend requests to people I think you be supportive, helpful and appreciative.

I've been very careful to screen Friend requests from people I don't already know. There have been a few times people have blatantly tried to troll me. They obviously want to make brownie points in their cadre or coven.

This JJ is a good example of the kind of bad people who proliferate at File 770. They hide in their anonymity like bugs hide under a rock.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016


Libertycon is coming at the end of this week. If I was going alone, I might have flown, but since my wife is coming, I can drive - I have a co-pilot. We are even planning to take a family member - Orso po 'di Zucchero - who goes by Sugar. We feel as the Alpha Dog in the house she deserves a road trip.
It's a ten hour drive, but we will spend all day Thursday on the road.

Here is my schedule:

Fri 04:00PM The Art of Short Story Writing
Fri 05:00PM Opening Ceremonies
Fri 06:00PM Reading: Lou Antonelli
Fri 09:00PM Author's Alley (Antonelli, Carpenter, Martin, Swann)
Sat 12:00PM Retro-Futurist Alternate History
Sat 03:00PM Author's Alley (Antonelli, Gibbons, Swears, Wandrey)
Sat 09:00PM Author's Alley (Antonelli, Braker, Carpenter, Spriggs)
Sun 10:00AM Kaffeeklatsch

I am also down for a signing at 1 on Sunday, but my experience is that after noon on a Sunday people begin leaving a convention, and I doubt anyone will stop by. Plus I only have a handful of books with me, I doubt I will have any left by then. My wife and I will probably start the drive home after the Kaffeeklatsch.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Latest efforts

I spent a few hours today dictating the first rough draft of a short story using Dragon software. I haven't written anything new since February. I came up with 2,918 words - but just barely.

I've been cursed all my life with a weak voice, and it is hard for me for talk for such long periods of time. I will lose my voice and choke up. Whenever I'd had a full hour to do a reading at a convention, it's usually very hard for me to finish.

I managed to get to the end of my rough draft, but at the end I could barely make myself understood by the software. No matter, I intend to edit brilliantly.

I also got caught up this weekend with my submissions; I have 18 short stories in 21 slushpiles. I have five stories pending publication.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Causerie on reaching 3,000 Facebook Friends

Yesterday my count of Facebook Friends passed 3,000. That makes me think of a few things. At the start of 2015, I had just over 2,000 Facebook Friends. But I haven't gained over 1,000 since then - I gained a lot more. Let me explain.

First off, Facebook is a necessary evil. There are a myriad of social platforms today, the proliferation of which is leading America towards a collective nervous breakdown. People are too distracted and have the attention span - maybe - of a cocker spaniel. And as I have said before, we knew in the past men did not possess telepathy because if we knew what we were thinking about each other, we'd be at each other's throats. Well, the internet has accomplished that anyway, and we are indeed at each other's throats - figuratively. Only time will tell if we implode into a full scale shooting civil war, in which case the figurative will have become the literal.

I'm of the age and generation where this all sees unreal to me - it's like a video game. These people can't be real, can they - the things they say?

For the purposes of self-promotion - a painful necessity when you write fiction - I got on Facebook in 2010, and Twitter a couple of years afterwards. I seem to be able to handle Facebook somewhat; Twitter is still a mystery, although I do use it, also. I simply can't figure out the use of such broken thoughts such as appear on Twitter - except to perhaps induce schizophrenia. (In one of his last essays before he died in 2007, Norman Mailer opined Americans minds had been destroyed by the sporadic way advertisements interrupt the narrative on television.)

Other social platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are a complete mystery. I have heard of a thing called Reddit - it sounds like the Devil's snooker room.

Well, by 2015 I had accumulated along the way maybe 2,100, 2,200 Facebook Friends - and then Sad Puppies struck.

Now, I tried to have a wide selection of Facebook Friends, and in previous years I had seldom unfriended anyone unless they were particularly obnoxious. One example was with John Scalzi, who I zapped a number of years ago after a post where he claimed to be God. I don't know if he was kidding or not, but honestly, I don't care. At the very least, it's offensive to anyone with religious sensibilities. But if there is one thing Scalzi is known for, it's for packing a lotta ego into a small body.

Another Facebook Friend I preemptively zapped years ago was Adam Troy-Castro, after he went online with an obscenity-laced rant about my governor, who was running for president at the time.

When the Sad Puppies witch hunt kicked off, my Friend count dropped like a descending elevator. Before April 4, 2015 - that's the day the Hugo finalists were announced - I had people like Patrick and Teresa Neilsen Hayden as Facebook Friends - heck, Teresa Neilsen Hayden had been panelists together at a few cons over the years - and others such as David Gerrold and Steve Davidson. They quickly disappeared, although I believe first out of the gate was Farah Mendelsohn.

My Friend count dropped below 2,000, but - let's face it - I didn't cover myself in glory by my testy reaction to the whole debacle. People who know me in person would probably say I'm pretty easy-going, but somehow somewhere in my mind, the names on the internet didn't register as "real" to me, and my normal social safeguards were compromised. I said things I would never say to anyone in person. It was like a video game. Deep down my brain didn't think it was all real. It was a combination of being a generational thing as well as my personality.

After August 22, 2015 - the day the s-f establishment took its revenge and No Awarded most of the literary Hugo categories - I decided that, since the internecine warfare had culled my Friends list, I would build it back up by reaching out to people who I thought would be more supportive.

There are some people who disagree with my on almost everything, but are broad-minded enough to still be willing to listen, and I respect them more than anyone. But I've made a lot of new Friends, and what's more important, these are people who judge me on the basis of my work, and what I say, and not what they read between the lines and what I must be thinking.

Facebook to me is just a tool, but fine craftsmanship can be enjoyable. I think my 3,000 Facebook Friends are now a much better selection of people, as far as being interested in my work, than they were a year ago.

So here's to you all, and here's lessons learned. Like veteran who survived a war, I wouldn't do it again, but having been through it, I'm better for it.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Cool acquaintances

One of the "cool" things that makes writing speculative fiction enjoyable (as opposed to the money - or lack thereof - and political correctness) is getting to know authors you enjoyed while young.

I've had that experience now a few times. In May WordFire Press released the Decision Points anthology, which includes my short story "The Milky Way Dance Hall". Among its many other distinguished authors are Robert Silverberg, whose story is "The Outbreeders".

Now, back 50 years ago, I distinctly remember when I first began to read s-f and buying books from the Scholastic Book Club. The first book I bought and read was "The Runaway Robot" by Lester DelRey. The third was "Steel Magic" by Andre Norton.

But the second was "Lost Race of Mars" by Robert Silverberg.

Back in 2013, when the WorldCon was held in San Antonio, I ran into Silverberg in the atrium of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. He was taking a break in an armchair and I went over and told him how great it was to meet him, and told him how the second book I ever bought was his, back when I was in the fourth grade.

He looked up me, scanned me a bit, and said, rather plaintively, "You've got gray hair."

One of my upcoming short story publications will be "Three Twilight Zone Variations on a High School Reunion" in The Third Spectral Book of Horror Stories. The TOC also includes a story by William F. Nolan,

Nolan, along with George Clayton Johnson, co-authored the book that became "Logan's Run", which was turned into the movie of the same name in 1976 - and which was one of the first s-f movies I ever saw.

Like I said at the top, it's pretty cool.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Working for a living

I got out of the habit of posting here regularly because the way the putz who runs the File 770 web page would cut and paste anything I wrote to hold me up to ridicule. Mike Glyer was an enforcer during the Sad Puppies debacle last year, and the worthless asswipes who comment on the web site are like the worst people in the world. Not the internet, the world.

Glyer used to work for the IRS, but retired last year, so whatever the case he always had plenty of time on his hands. It's easy to notice most of the people who populate the web page have government jobs - which means they really don't work for a living. If these dipshits ever realized how much hard-working self-supporting people resent lazy bureaucrats, the way the world works would be much clearer to them - from Brexit to Donald Trump.

Aaron Pound, one of the worst of the breed, is a government lawyer, for Christ's sake.

I'm probably doing myself a disservice by not posting more frequently, so I may pick up the pace a bit. Of course, I have to post AFTER working for an honest day's pay; sometimes I'm tired, but at least I know I support myself by my wits and my sweat, and not because I'm a politically-privileged hack.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

"Another Girl, Another Planet" moves towards publication

You may recall I inked a contract with WordFire Press in February for my first novel, "Another Girl, Another Planet", thanks to Acquisitions Editor Dave Butler and Publisher Kevin J. Anderson.

My manuscript went to Developmental Editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt, and then back to me for edits and rewrites. I finished those this weekend, and it is back in Bryan's hands.

I believe that, from what I've heard over the years, that editors tend to ask authors to trim verbiage from their works, but Bryan's over-arching observation was that in fact I needed to add description at numerous levels. He pointed out that it was obvious my day job is as a journalist, and that I tended to write too tightly and tersely.

(Even the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction has described my writing style as "spare").

The manuscript I turned in to Bryan this morning was over 13,000 words longer than the first version, and clocks in at 101,555 words. Which for me is enormous. The longest thing I've ever had published previously was a novelette just over 11,000 words.

But I still think it's pretty tight and in keeping with my "swift, convincing narrative style" - again, from the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Like most authors, I can be my own worst critic, but I think I've done good work this time, and you all are going to enjoy it.

Finally, I'd like to note that at noon on Saturday at LibertyCon (July 9) I will be moderating a panel tailor-made for me, and "Another Girl, Another Planet", on "Retro-Futurist Alternate History".

It should be good.

Friday, June 10, 2016

My SoonerCon schedule

I will be guest at SoonerCon 25 in two weeks. Here is my schedule for the weekend:

Reading - 2:00 p.m. - Friday, June 24

Autographs (1 hour) - 11:00 a.m. - Saturday June 25, 2016 - 10 Forward

Fissionable Fiction (M) - The Bomb's impact on all aspects of pop culture: A celebration and a warning!

12:00 p.m. - Saturday June 25 Mann

Tim Frayser, A. Lee Martinez, Tommy B. Smith, Tex Thompson, Joy Ward

Our Wars Are Different: Alternate History Battles - An alternate history look at American warfare beginning with the Revolutionary War through the Cold War.

2:00 p.m. - Saturday June 25 Ballroom D

Jeff Provine, Gorg Huff, Melinda LaFevers, David Weber

Conspiracy Theories (or What's Really Happening) - Are the multiple theories of alien visitations, government cover-ups, and assassinations really there to hide the one true conspiracy theory?
4:00 p.m.Saturday June 25 Mann

Daniel Erickson, Mark Alfred, James K. Burk, Tom Meserole, Joey Rodman

Internet Culture and the Future of Mankind - How will the internet culture of today shape the real-world society of the future? From Reddit, to Anonymous, to hashtags, to potential political revolution, where do we go from here?

11:00 a.m. Sunday June 26 Mann

Travis Nance, Courtney Oliphant, Jeff Provine, Peter Pixie, David Oak Rice

Friday, June 03, 2016

I wish I didn't look so serious when I take a selfie!

OK, I picked up my author's copy of the Decision Points anthology last weekend at ConQuest from Bryan Thomas Schmidt, and it's been deposited on my "Brag Shelf".

It seems I miscounted previously, "The Milky Way Dance Hall" is my 98th short story publication - not 97th - since I started almost 13 years ago in 2003.

It's my third of this year.

Friday, May 13, 2016


As some of you may know, I have Type II Diabetes. It's an insidious disease that take constant monitoring and control. Unfortunately, I had a small health issue sneak up on me recently.

While in Virginia April 30-May 1 for the Ravencon convention, I took advantage of the local shopping malls. I bought a nice new pair of shoes at a department store, and wore them back to Texas.

Earlier this week, one night as I went to bed, I saw that I had developed a bad blister running up along the small toe of my left foot. I tried to take care of it myself, but today I went to see my doctor.

He patched it up a bit, and gave me some antibiotic cream, but said I had developed an ulcer. I will be seeing a podiatrist next Wednesday.

My doctor also said I should not wear shoes without socks any more. I went and bought a bunch of ankle socks this afternoon.

The problem seems to have been caught in time, but this is the first time I developed a diabetic complication like this. Then again, I've had the disease almost 20 years.

This will be the first time I've seen a podiatrist in my life. Just a reminder to be vigilant in watching this disease.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

My ConQuest line-up

Well, I have received my line-up of panels for ConQuest in Kansas City. Here it is:

Friday, May 27 6:00 p.m. - 6:50 p.m.
Authors Reading Their Favorite Authors
Moderator: Earline Beebe
Panelists: Me, Sean Demory, Ozgur K. Sahin, Caroline Spector, Dennis Young

Saturday, May 28 10:25 a.m.

Saturday, May 28 4:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.
The Legacy of H.G.Wells
Moderator: ME!
Panelists: Rich Horton, Jeff Pryor, Tom Trumpinski

Saturday, May 28 5:00 p.m. - 5:50 p.m.
Writing The Future: Imagining What We Can't Possibly Know
Moderator: Tom Trumpinski
Panelists: Me, Chris Gerrib, H.G. Stratmann

Sunday, May 29 11:00 a.m.
Navigating the World of Short Story Submission
Moderator: Jack Campbell Jr.
Panelists: Me, Jude Marie Green, Tom Trumpinski

Sunday, May 29 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.
Future of Space Travel
Moderator: Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Panelists: Me, Robin Wayne Bailey

Sunday, May 08, 2016

It's a small world

This definitely falls under the "Its' a Small World" department, but today I was minding a brush pile which needed to be burned, and to put my time to good use, I retrieved some boxes of old newspaper photos from the 1980s, and set up a work station as I curated the photos.

They were discarded when the newspaper I worked at in 2014 was sold. The significant photos were donated to the local library, but I hauled away a couple of trash cans of photos that were thrown out, and I scan and post them occasionally.

Lo and behold, as I near the end of the process of sorting through the hundreds of photos, a familiar face appears! Sure enough, here's fellow East Texan Joe Lansdale! He must have made a local stop while promoting a book.

This is probably 20 years before I went to work at the paper in 2007, and 15 years before I even started writing fiction.

Like I said, small world!

Friday, May 06, 2016

A plague on both their houses

In rare moments of quiet contemplation, I recall how a year ago my every day was assaulted by an ongoing outpouring of hate from David Gerrold, directed towards myself and the other Hugo finalists who did not meet with his approval.

He had a repetitious tirade which boilerplated a litany that began with something like "Can you tell me why these stories should be considered the equivalent of..." and then he'd run through a list of the same famous stories and novels - the same list day after day after day.

I think he went back and deleted those dozens of posts. Doesn't matter - I'll never forget what he did.

This year he doesn't seem to be spewing The Daily Big Lie. Of course, he isn't the presenter at the ceremony this year.

I had trouble last year explaining to normal people - like my wife - how a person designated as master of ceremonies of an awards event was daily posting vicious diatribes against people who were allegedly finalists for the same award. My wife simply did not believe me, or my prediction that not only would I not probably win in the categories I was nominated in, but Gerrold and his coterie would probably not present the award rather than give it to people they didn't like.

Imagine if, for the four months preceding an Academy Awards ceremony, the master of ceremonies was allowed to viciously attack - on an ongoing, daily basis - some of the Oscar contenders.

I sat through the atrocity of the Hugo ceremony in person, while my wife watched it on live streaming at home - until she turned it off in disgust. When I got home, I said "I'm sorry you had to see that, but now you know what assholes these people are."

She believes me now.

This year, the Sad Puppies took the high road and stuck strictly to a list of reading recommendations. Vox Day got his minions to screw up the ballot - this time on purpose. I'm chuckling from the sidelines. I hope both sides wipe each other out.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Paperback haul

One of the highlights of Ravencon for me was totally unexpected - I had great luck in grabbing some vintage paperbacks from a few of the dealers. Some of these are books that I read and loved when I was young, and in many cases I hadn't seen in many years.

"Time Enough For the Stars" hooked me on Heinlein juveniles when I was in grade school.

"The Chess Men of Mars" - and that cover - made a big impression with me and was probably the first Edgar Rice Burroughs book I read.

"The Magic Goes Away" also greatly impressed me. I always throught it had one of the best "hook" intros I ever read.

That particular edition of "Telempath" resonates because of the cover - that's the Columbia University campus in the background. I literally walked past that sundial a thousand times while in college.

The other two Heinlein books - "Time Enough For Love" and "Farnham's Freehold" - have eluded me over the years, and I have never read them, so I was glad to snatch them up, also.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Next up: Conquest

Hot on the heels of my return from Ravencon, here is my schedule for Conquest in Kansas City May 27-29:

Authors Reading Their Favorite Authors FRI 6 PM
Authors will select and read their favorite scenes from other author's books.

Reading  SAT 10:30 AM

The Legacy of H.G.Wells (M) SAT 4 PM
2016 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of H.G. Wells. This panel will discuss the works of H.G. Wells, their influence on authors and
literature. There will also be discussion of the portrayal of H.G. Wells
in media including television and movies.

Writing The Future: Imagining What We Can't Possibly Know SAT 5 PM
An SF story depends on a high level of current scientific and
technological knowledge not end up dated before even hitting the shelves. And that's the easy part, because even respecting that vast breadth of knowledge an SF story needs to look beyond the known and innovate in ways that even the current engineers and scientists aren't thinking of. Panelists discuss the burden of SF to inspire, innovate and remain relevant in a world where science and technology are accelerating expeonentially.

Navigating the World of Short Story Submission SUN 11 AM
This would be a repeat of last year's panel, which was very well attended and had a really good response.

Future of Space Travel SUN 1 PM
Panelists discuss the future of space travel and science fiction books and stories imagining it.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Ravencon coming up

I will be in Williamsburg, Virginia, for RavenCon April 29 through May 1st. Here is my tentative schedule:

5 pm (Panel) Guilty Pleasure: The “B” Movie / Room G
7 pm (Opening Ceremony) Large Auditorium

6 pm - 8 pm (Panel) Ask SWFA / Room G

10 am (Signing) Dealers Room - John Teehan of The Merry Blacksmith Press will be in the Dealers Room, so copies of "Letters from Gardner" and "Texas & Other Planets" will be available for purchase.
Noon (Panel) Learning to Write: Workshops, Books & Classes / Room 8
2 pm (Reading) Room J - I will be reading my short story which is included in the Decision Points YA anthology being releasednext month, "The Milky Way Dance Hall".

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Some feedback on a rejection

"It is really well-written, but far too predictable. I knew exactly what was going to happen on almost every page that the story held no "interest for me other than the good writing. But I can't buy a story on that basis alone.

"Also, this is one of those overused plotlines in the same vein as "let's go back in time and kill Hitler." I kept waiting for the narrative to take an intriguing new direction, but it never happened."

I've joked in the past that, with my background in journalism, I have a decent grasp of the English language, and I've never been told a story was poorly written - just that it had other minor problems such as plot, pacing, characterization and so forth. This is a good example.

I've said in the past any feedback from an editor is good, and this is valid criticism. It's nice to see normal feedback with a rejection, and not all the bad faith hatchet jobs myself and a lot of Hugo nominees had to endure last year. This example of feedback starts off by highlighting the positive aspects of the story, but then segues into the problems - which is always a valid approach. Last year most of the reviews of Hugo-nominated stories skipped the positives, went straight to the negatives, and usually segued into personal attacks. Not all, but most. Which is why, unfortunately, I'm grateful when an editor sends honest feedback with a rejection.

Not that all my feedback are rejections. I should have between one and three acceptances to announces soon.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

"Great White Ship" being republished

Here is the line-up for the Digital Science Fiction QuickFic imprint coming out in the middle of April. This is a reprint anthology; the stories underlined will be live on their web site. This includes my Sidewise award finalist, "Great White Ship".

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Nostalgia at night

My story in the upcoming anthology "Decision Points" was inspired, at least in its beginning, by a scene in a column I published in my newspaper by a contributor, Ralph K. Banks.

The imagery stuck with me, and eventually prodded the initial setting for the story. Here is the pertinent passage:

"There actually was no dance hall building located on this road at all. Instead, what some of us called the dance hall was merely a straight flat stretch of the road that seemed wider and smoother than the rest of the road with the all around terrain mostly consisting of flat prairieland and by that time of year, harvested cotton fields.

"The cars would be parked along the sides of the roadway with one or two with good receiving radios having volumes turned up with the windows rolled down, enabling couples to dance to the radio music on the roadway pavement.

"As usual there was little traffic on this road, with the headlights of the few cars that did come our way being visible in plenty of time for the couples to clear the roadway for those cars to pass.

"And, so it went on this cool November night with the radios playing our favorite music tunes of the time and the few couples enjoying dancing on the old county road under a star-filled sky and full autumn moon.

"From the Sulphur Springs and Paris radio stations we enjoyed hearing and dancing to such tunes as Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog”, Fats Domino’s “On Blueberry Hill”; the Platters’ “My Prayer”, “Its Twilight Time” and “Only You”, and perhaps the one that was most prophetic as our curfews got close, “It’s Almost Tomorrow”."

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Here's an alternate history thought, since today is Holy Thursday, or as it has been traditionally called, Maundy Thursday:

If Jesus had been arrested the night of the last supper - after he did the feet washing but before the Seder was served....

1. Would the Christian church have focused more on service to the poor rather then temporal power, since that was the last lesson Jesus imparted?

2. Instead of a communion supper,would the center of the Mass have become the foot washing ceremony?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

How the Creative Process Starts For Me

Whenever I get an idea for a potential short story, I will jot a note down as a reminder. These notes might be made in any number of places. Every so often I gather up these notes and read them over. If I can't remember the story idea from the title I jotted down, I discard it. It has to have been good enough for me to remember from the title.

Once a year I take my typewriter and type up these notes in one neat list. This makes up a list of story ideas I can refer to in the coming months. I updated my list this morning, discarding stories that have been written up and adding new titles.

Anyway, this is how the process works for me. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary. To show what I mean, I scanned the page:

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Poor Ceausescu

Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
I've been doing research on the Cold War in preparation for my sequel to "Another Girl, Another Planet", and in the process I was reminded that Romania was the only country in the Eastern Bloc where the ruler was violently overthrown. After refusing to bow to the inevitable, Nikolai Ceausescu and his wife were arrested and unceremoniously shot on Christmas Day 1989.

In the course of my research I stumbled across the record of a "Saturday Night Live" skit that ran on Jan. 13, 1990. I remember seeing this when it was first broadcast 26 years ago.

Here is a still that shows Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Ed O'Neill, Nora Dunn, and Jon Lovitz as mourners during the skit called 'Ceausescu's Wake'.

The people all sound mournful as they bemoan Ceausescu's demise, saying "Poor Ceausescu!". After a while, one of them asks:

"Is he really dead?"

Someone else says, "Let's be sure."

At which point everyone pulls out a gun and starts shooting into the coffin.

As a wise man once said, being an evil dictator has great benefits and perks, but the retirement plan sucks.

My SoonerCon schedule

I will be in Oklahoma City June 22-24 for the SoonerCon convention. Here is my schedule. Hope to see you there! The Author and The Antholo...