Monday, January 30, 2017

How it played out

With all the public attention being paid to the start of the new presidential administration, I thought I'd mention how the presidency went in the alternate timeline used in "Another Girl, Another Planet".

The story is set in 1985, and the president is John Anderson. Remember him? He was the moderate Republican who ran for president in 1980 as an independent. He got 6.6 percent of the vote.

In the timeline used in "Another Girl, Another Planet", George Wallace's American Party campaign in 1968 leads to a permanent split between the liberal and conservative wings of the Democrat Party, with the liberals remaining Democrats and the conservatives joining the American Party.(Ronald Reagan, for example, is a member of the American Party, not the Republican Party).

As a result, the Republican Party stays centrist in the moderate middle; it doesn't need to try to draw in southern conservatives to win elections. Richard Nixon is replaced after Watergate by Sen. Mark Hatfield, and Anderson replaces Hatfield.

Also, James Earle Carter remains in the Navy and is, in fact, widely seen as the probable successor of the elderly Admiral Robert Heinlein as the head of the space program.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Latest acceptance




I am proud to announce that my original short story "Dry Falls" will be published in a forthcoming Time Travel-themed issue of Scarium, the official online magazine of the Brazilian Science Fiction Readers Club,

This will be my second foreign language translation, the first in Portuguese. It will be translated by Flávio Medeiros Jr.

I'm looking forward to it.

Here's something of an anachronism

When I started writing and submitting fiction at the end of 2002, there were few, if any, venues that accepted electronic submissions.

That's changed, and today almost all publications require electronic submissions; many use submission portals.

The last time I had to submit a hard copy and include a SASE was last year, for Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet. They seem to be the last hold-out.

And they send me back a rejection in my SASE. It was almost nostalgic.

I know authors would much rather tout acceptances than rejections, but I'll give Lady Churchill's credit for doing it the old-fashioned way, and I thought it would be interesting to note it here.

By the way, it IS a quality magazine and you should five them a try, also.

Just do it

For those people who are making a specific effort to read stories from 2016 with an eye towards making nominations for various awards, I link here to my story "The Yellow Flag" which was published by Sci-Phi Journal in August.

This is the story I wrote one afternoon in May 2015. It went from start to acceptance in four hours.

Now I'm not claiming it's the best story I've ever written - because I've written like 140 and with 104 already published - but it's decent, and more importantly I'd like to think it might encourage aspiring writers who despair as they stare at the Cold White Screen of Doom.

You know, it's like the sneaker company slogan "Just do it." Plunk butt in chair, lay hands on keyboard, and see what happens. Unless you hurt yourself typing (highly unlikely) or you write something so turgid your discourage yourself (never be afraid to hit "delete"), then you will have accomplished something.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

"Another Girl, Another Planet" to be released Feb.1st

Latest word from WordFire Press is that the formal release date for "Another Girl, Another Planet" is Feb. 1. In view of that, here's the prologue again, to whet your appetite:

---

There is a small valley ten kilometers from the joint Mars colony, not visible from the surrounding desert, in the heart of the Melas Chasma in the Valles Marineris. As you approach it you will see three crosses—one a traditional Latin cross, and two Celtic crosses.

One of the Celtic crosses is next to the Latin cross. The other Celtic cross sits off to the side. It’s obviously a small graveyard. And you’re the first person to see this lonely place since I was there in 1985.

You want to know what I know about it?

I know everything. I dug those graves. By hand.

Do you want to know why?

Sit down; I’ll tell you.

---

It's already available via Baen Ebooks. Here's the link.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Agile Writers Conference

It's only 12 days until the Agile Writers Conference, being held at the Holiday Inn at the Richmond Airport.

Agile Writers helps beginning writers create their first-draft novel, memoir, autobiography, or screenplay. I will be giving the seminar on The Importance of Dialogue.

Here is my description:

The spoken word preceded the written word. It is possible to write a story – at least at short lengths – in all dialogue. Man’s first storytellers regaling colleagues around a campfire used dialogue, and when the story was passed along, it became all dialogue – until it was written down after writing was invented.

The skills needed to listen and study dialogue will be reviewed, as well as the best ways to train your listening skills.

Participants will learn:

The difference between dialogue and simply using a transcript.

Things to avoid, such as excessive slang or phonetic spelling; and/or when to use them (sparingly).

Dialogue style to drive the plot, such as by showing social class or background.

When a paraphrase will do better than a direct quote.

How to avoid info dumps (“As you know, Bob.”

How to make dialogue sound realistic.

How to train your dialogue skills (Hint: Sit in on a trial).

The various points of view and how they related to dialogue (First Person, Second Person, Omniscient).

The related subject of internal dialogue, and train of thought.

Tricks you can use with dialogue (such as when the narrator knows less than the reader).

Here is a link so you can sign up.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Scribble, scribble...

I spent the last quarter of 2016 in a very time-consuming household move. The distance - 46 miles - was just long enough to be painful but not long enough to require professionals.

Along the way I got very sick at one point from all the dust that was stirred up, and another time I dropped a piece of furniture on my foot - both cases required a doctor's visit.

It's taken weeks to accomplish the move and unpacking. In the meantime, I got no fiction writing done, and my submissions conveyor belt ground to a halt.

However, things are getting back to normal. I have written a new story, revised an old story, and I wrote 2,500 words today on another new story.

And as of tonight I have 16 stories in various slush piles, so I'm back to my old pace.

I'm looking forward to picking up some new publications in 2017. Since I write for my own enjoyment (and of course the enjoyment of my fans) I'll submit to any publication with a pulse. It's a habit I copied from the late Jay Lake.

Things will get off to a strong start soon with the release of my first novel "Another Girl, Another Planet" from WordFire Press shortly, but I intend to keep up my usual pace with short fiction.

I had nine short stories published last year, starting with "Captain of the Clouds" on Jan. 1 by Aurora Wolf and ending with "If You Were a Dinah Shore, My Love" by the Curious Gallery podcast on Dec. 26.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The terrible cover

Here's a funny, true story that could only happen to me:

As many of you know, my real job is as a small town newspaper editor. About ten years ago I was working for a semi-weekly (2x a week) newspaper in Bowie County, Texas.

One of my regular duties was to attend and report on the deliberations of the local school board. Now, there are a number of subjects that a school district deals with which, under Texas law, can be discussed behind closed doors for reasons for privacy. Student discipline and personnel matters are two of the most common reasons for an "executive session".

I was a board meeting when the members had to leave and deliberate in private, which meant myself, members of the public and the school district staff had to wait in the board room and kill time. Knowing from the agenda this was planned, I brought a book I could read while waiting.

I've done this a number of times, and as I have a large number of books at home I had picked an anthology pretty much at random and began to read it, held up in front of my face, while waiting for the school board members to return.

After a few minutes, I became aware that the other people in the room were looking at me with the strangest expressions. It hit me like a flash:

"Oh, crap, what's on the cover of this book?!"

I knew - being a reader of s-f and fantasy - there was a distinct possibility the cover was pretty wild.

I turned the book around, and chuckled. Yes, this is the photo of the cover.

I apologized to the other people and explained that no, I wasn't reading a book on Satanism, but science fiction. And I stashed the book.

I will still sometimes take a book with me to read in similar circumstances - but I always remember to look at the cover!

Not worth the pixels...

A comment or opinion on the Internet is as trustworthy as the reputation of the person who made it.

Which is to say anything posted anonymously or under a pseudonym is probably a lie or bullshit.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

"Nobody ever volunteered for a pogrom"



Here's a riddle:

What do you get if you cross a cesspool with an echo chamber?

File 770.

Mike Glyer, who was rewarded for playing Assassins' Creed with the Sad Puppies in 2015 with two Hugo awards last year, likes to post stuff from the s-f losers at the Uncool Kids table so his perpetual internet lynch mob can mock and disrespect them

So of course he picked up my ruminations about the potential of a blacklist.

The usual idiots and assholes that propagate File 770 held forth as evil people are wont to do under the cover of anonymity.

A few said they didn't believe the people who personally recounted their stories of being told they were no longer welcome at certain publishers after the Trump victory.

They said they wanted names.

Uh-huh. These sons-of-bitches are posting anonymously on File 770 but they want the names of the victims of their little cabal to expose themselves.

Back in 1976 there was a made for TV movie called Victory at Entebbe", about Operation Entebbe, when Israeli commandos freed the hostages on an airliner that had been flown to Entebbe, Uganda.

That was back when Idi Amin was dictator of Uganda. The terrorists had separated the passengers with Israeli passports for - God knows what end. The Israelis moved in and, in a lightning raid on July 4, 1976, freed the hostages. Only three died in the mayhem.

The leader of the Israeli force, Johnathan Netanyahu - the brother of the current prime minister- was among the five Israeli casualties.

In "Victory at Entebbe", Richard Dreyfuss played Jonathan Netanyahu. Helen Hayes played a character meant to portray Dora Bloch.

After the raid, the commandos learned one hostage had not been at the airport. The 74-year old Mrs. Bloch had previously taken ill and was a hospital instead. Of course, after the raid no one ever heard of her again. Reports almost 30 years later said witnesses said she was shot and her body dumped outside Kampala.

In the movie, there is a hostage who expresses feelings of guilt because when the terrorists sorted out the Israelis - and some people who were obviously Jewish - he escaped because he had an American passport and a name not obviously Jewish.

(In the scene where the terrorists are sorting out the Jews, one man objects because he has a Belgian passport, and the terrorist lady mocks him because his name is Moshe Meyer as she shoves him in the room with the others.)

Anyway, Mrs. Bloch comforts the other hostage who later has feelings of guilt, saying how he behaved was perfectly reasonable.

She says "Nobody ever volunteered for a pogrom."

And that pretty much sums of my attitude towards the scumbags at File 770 who want me to name the names of the people who confided in me their tales of blacklisting.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Writers conference in Richmond

The Agile Writer Conference is coming January 28th. The conference features 20 seminars taught by experts in writing, editing, self-publishing, and social media marketing. All designed to help the beginning writer get the tools they need to write, edit, publish, and market their novel.

Tickets are on sale now at http://AgileWriters.com. For a limited time you can get $10 off the ticket price of $85 when you use Promo Code AGILE17 for a discount price of $75. Seating is limited so buy your ticket today!

I will be teaching "The Importance of Dialogue" at 3 p.m. on Saturday

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Regarding my post of Monday where I raised the question of whether blacklists are real...

I don't often approve anonymous comments, but I did in this one case, since it sounded true, and given the subject matter, it's completely understandable why someone would prefer to remain anonymous:

"Day after the election, when I posted a picture of myself with a Trump hat, a famous editor of whom almost anyone would know her name, had her assistant message me to tell me how awful I am, that I'm not going to be invited to write in anthologies again, coupled with the threat that the publishing industry is small and word travels fast.

"Blackballing is real. But you are not alone."

POSTSCRIPT: As a result of this discussion, I received this PM, which I am keeping confidential, of course:

"The black list is real. I don't want to be named either but an editor I know flat out told me he was thinking about working with me again but after I supported Trump publicly he doesn't see how we can ever work together again

"He is a big whig editor at a conservative outlet that publishes books and I'm on my second book. All offers of help dried up."

Monday, January 02, 2017

Is there a blacklist?

A colleague asked me the other day if I felt there is a blacklist in literary s-f against non-PC writers.

I replied I don't know, there's no way to tell for sure; that's the nature of a blacklist - it's a conspiracy.

I will say that before 2015, when I was a double Sad Puppy Hugo nominee, my rejections almost always included invitations to submit to that market again.

Now, that is very uncommon, and in fact almost all my rejections now end with "best of luck" or "good luck with your writing" - and no encouragement to submit again.

Of course, there is always the possibility my writing skills have declined in the past couple of years - but that would run counter to experience.

Being a glorified hobbyist in the field, it's not that big a deal to me. I really write for my own personal pleasure and the enjoyment of my fans. If I tried to make a living as a short story writer, I'd be as broke as Howard Waldrop.

Still, I'm left scratching my head, because the verbiage of the rejections I receive has definitely shifted, and wording of the various "good luck in your writing" observations is very consistent.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

The year's tally

Now that 2016 is past, I'll note I had nine short story publications this year:

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

8. "Three Twilight Zone Variations on a High School Reunion" - 3rd Spectral Book of Horror Stories, Oct. 31, 2016

9. “If You Were a Dinah Shore, My Love” – Gallery of Curiosities podcast, Dec. 26, 2016

The first and the last - "Captain of the Clouds" and "If You Were a Dinah Shore, my Love" - are both alternate histories.

"Time Like a Rope" and "He Threw His Hands Up In the Air" are secret histories. "Time Like a Rope" is also a time travel story.

"The Milky Way Dance Hall" and "Three Twilight Zone Variations on a High School Reunion" are both Twilight Zone stories. "Twilight Zone Variations" is also a ghost story.

"Higher Powers" and "The Yellow Flag" are both space travel stories.

"Lone Star, Lost Star" is just wacky and satirical

Lost in transatlantic translation

You probably know that the idea that Mars was inhabited came from the observations of the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiapparelli in 1877....