Thursday, January 25, 2018

Quite a journalist!

It's probably a problem because of living in a rural county, but occasionally the internet service goes out. I had no internet access at my office all afternoon today.

There is always work to be done, but I like to take breaks between chores by reading on the internet. It keeps the brain from curdling.

When I realized the internet was down, my first thought was to grab a book for when I wanted a break. Then I realized I had no books at the office.

I took a handful of quarters and walked across the town square and to the county library, and bought five old hardcover books from the library discard sale.

I ended up reading a biography of Nellie Bly and the story of when she went around the world in 72 days. It was great reading, and I learned something.

I did not know that during a stopover in England she went to France to meet Jules Verne. And he told her he didn't think she'd meet or break Phileas Fogg's record.

She showed him!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Sound and fury

I guestimate 95 percent of my Facebook Friends know me as an author of speculative fiction. I'm sure the percentages are reversed with people who know me in person..

I use Facebook as promotional tool for my fiction, and probably most of my Facebook Friends understand the tumultuous storms of controversy that roil the science fiction community. None of my personal friends do, and in fact I've found it very hard to explain to my friends and acquaintances in the "real world" what all the hollering is about, for a few reasons.

East Texas is culturally and politically conservative and traditional. Most people here can't understand the concepts that there are 86 genders or that anyone who believes in Jesus Christ is an idiot*, or that the American people don't have the right - no matter what you think of Donald Trump - to free elections and political self-determination.

America's neo-aristocracy is just as cavalier and out-of-touch as France's "ancien regime". They have all the oppressive power the old French aristocracy had, and unfortunately, because of modern media - social and otherwise - the ability to get in your face with their sneers.

Now, Texans are much more self-reliant and concurrently believe in live and let live. They just don't understand people who think they have the right to tell you how to vote, pray, think - or read.

If people just followed live and let live rule, we'd all be better off, but the aristocrats have been coddled and kow-towed to for so long they don't know any better.

In the writing racket, this comes off in fights over concepts and beliefs that have nothing to do with literature.

I apologize to my friends in the "real world" who are probably very puzzled at what must sometimes seem like petty disputes over minor topics. Trust me, these arguments are as pointless as they seem.There are a lot of privileged and protected people in the rest of the U.S. who have nothing to do but feed their egos and make trouble. Ignore them, as I have learned to do over the past few years.

I often think that I made a mistake by reaching out and seeking to become an author and publishing far afield, because that brings me in contact with these miserable people. But then again, I started writing and submitting stories 15 years ago; I think the social discourse has coarsened considerably since then. The generation that seems to have come up through the ranks of literature since then seem to be made up of equal parts of feral children and Rosemary's Baby.

If you can't treat us with respect, at least leave us alone. Unfortunately, a lot of the people they have oppressed have now turned on them in fear and frustration. It's a vicious circle, spiraling downward.

Like a fever, I hope this eventually breaks. The sooner the better.

* One sign of the social inbreeding in liberal circles is using the mocking name "Jeebus" for the founder of the Christian religion. I've lived in the Bible Belt for 32 years and I've never heard anyone refer to "Jeebus". But it's almost the only way most s-f liberals refer to Christ.

I mean, we don't refer to your deity as the "Debbil", do we?

Friday, January 19, 2018

Ah-choo!

It's been a busy month and a half. In addition to my normal job duties, I had to deal with the disruptions caused by the three-holiday season of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's
Plus added in this year were a myriad of activities related to the purchase of the newspaper. The agreement was finalized Jan. 1 but the chores continue. For example, we still don't a provider to process our credit card transactions.
Plus I've had upper respiratory problems since Christmas. So have many of you, I'm sure. I carry a can of saline nasal mist in my briefcase.
But we're getting through it all.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

How I did it

Looking back on yesterday, when I went from start to acceptance of a short story in an hour and a half, I realize a number of things had to fall into place just right – which they did.
First, I obviously had to have a clear story idea in my head. I’m a total “panster” – I never outline a story – but I’ve found that when I get an idea it simmers on the back burner of my subconscious until it’s ready. I knew a man who once said when faced with a problem, rather than wracking your brain until you lose sleep, “drop it into the deep well of your unconscious cerebration. When the time comes it will rise to the surface.”
That works for me. Years ago I had the basic idea and plot for what ultimately became my Sidewise award finalist short story “Great White Ship” simmering on that back burner for years. The hang-up was the ending. Then one day it popped into my mind. I sat down and wrote the story, and the rest is in the record books. One funny side effect of having thought on it for so long is that for a few years afterwards, I would sometimes think “I need to write that dirigible story” before finally remembering I did!
Second, one needs to be a fast writer. I am, a result of being a journalist for so long. I can write a thousand words of publishable prose an hour. My story, “This Place is a Hole” is 1,395 words long.
Thirdly, inspiration helps. As I just mentioned, my story ideas simmer on the back burner for a while. That’s been the case with this tale of a young lady completely disaffected by the prospect of having to move with her family to a planet she doesn’t like. With President Trump shooting off his mouth about some countries being “shitholes”, it seemed the right tone of disgust for my protagonist.
Fourth, I had an editor waiting for my story. I missed the original deadline because of all the work I had to put in to seal the deal for the purchase of my newspaper. I told the editor Friday I was going to sit down and get her the story this weekend.
Fifth, it was a quiet Saturday morning at home and I was able to write without any interruptions.
Sixth, it was a simple story idea that could be executed at a short length of just under 1,400 words.
Seventh, my editor was online when I sent her the story. I told her if she read it immediately and liked it, we could set some kind of record.
Eighth, she did read it immediately and liked it.
So there it is. I have no idea how this record could ever be topped. I guess the moral of the tale is it helps to get a firm grasp of the English language in your bones – which I’ve done by writing for a living for 40 year (though not fiction), and it’s good to know your markets and have a few sympathetic editors.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A new record...

I sat down after breakfast this morning to write a short story for Dawn Witzke for the upcoming Earth anthology - part of the Superversive Press Planet series.

I promised her a while back that I would submit something. I have been very distracted the past few weeks because of my buying the local newspaper, so I was late.

I started at 8:30 a.m. and wrote up the story, "This Planet is a Hole", in an hour - 1,395 words. I emailed it to Dawn, who read it immediately.

She accepted it at 9:58 a.m.

So I am proud to announce that my short story "This Planet is a Hole" will be published in the forthcoming Earth anthology.

Furthermore, I more than halved my previous record for start to acceptance of a short story, which was four hours for "The Yellow Flag", published in Sci-Phi Journal in August 2016.

An hour and a half! Jeez, I guess I learned to write good copy fast working as a journalist for 40 years.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Latest anthology

"Mercury", the first of this year's Superversive Press Planetary anthologies, is out. It features my short story "Last Call". It's available in Kindle and hardcover.

Here is the Table of Contents for the just-released anthology:

In the Palace of Promised Immortality by John C. Wright
Schubert to Rachmaninoff by Benjamin Wheeler
The Element of Transformation by L. Jagi Lamplighter
In Tower of the Luminious Sages by Corey McCleery
The Haunted Mines of Mercury by Joshua M. Young
Quicksilver by J.D. Beckwith
Ancestors Answer by Bokerah Brumley
Last Call by Lou Antonelli
Deceptive Appearances by Declan Finn
mDNA by Misha Burnett
The Star of Mercury by A.M. Freeman
Cucurbita Mercurias by Dawn Witzke
The Wanderer by David Hallquist

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Changes in routine

The question may naturally arise in one's mind: Will my becoming owner of the news paper where I work cut down on my time for writing fiction?

Well, the completely honest answer would be, I'm not sure, but I suspect not. The easing of stress and the simplifying of organization at the newspaper - going from absentee ownership to owner operated - will probably make things run smoother, and possibly free up some time.

Then again, that free time may be taken up with more duties. So I really don't know.

Then again again, I have no idea how I had ten short stories published in 2017, anyway.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Lead story on the front page of today's local newspaper:

A new year, and new owners; The Clarksville Times is sold

The New Year rings in a changing of the guard at The Clarksville Times, as owner Red River Media on Monday approved a sales agreement for the 145-year old newspaper.

Robert L. Palmer of Red River Media states The Times is being sold to a new locally-based corporation formed by Louis and Patricia Antonelli of Clarksville.

Palmer met at The Times office on New Year’s Day to sanction the agreement with the Antonellis which will be concluded in the near future. The new owner of the newspaper will be New Clarksville Times Publishing, with Louis and Patricia Antonelli as the partners.

Red River Media has owned The Clarksville Times since 1977, when it was bought from Jimmy Hurt of Clarksville, who owned it for 30 years before that.

Palmer said “We’ve enjoyed the long and fruitful association with Clarksville and Red River County. We are grateful for the community support over the years.”

“We are very proud of the high standard of community journalism that has been the trademark of The Times and have every expectation that Lou Antonelli will maintain the same tradition,” continued Palmer. “He’s an experienced journalist with four decades in the business, and has done a superb job as managing editor of the paper for the past three years.”

Lou Antonelli stated, “I’ve enjoyed working and living in Clarksville, and I jumped at the chance to take the reins of The Times. It’s a great responsibility, running a paper that goes back to Reconstruction Era, and has had only two owners in 70 years, but I believe I have the experience and attitude to make The Times even bigger and better than it is now.

“I plan to do that, with the continued advice and support of the citizens of Clarksville,” he said.
Lou Antonelli and all the other employees of The Times will stay in their current positions. Patricia Antonelli will be the manager of New Clarksville Times Publishing LLC.

“We plan to hold a community-wide Open House at the newspaper as soon as the dust settles,” said Patricia. “Everyone will be welcome. Keep an eye out for the announcement!”

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

My last post reviewing my published short fiction in 2017

My 10th and final story of the year, "Queens Crossing", was published on Nov. 11 in "More Alternative Truths", the follow-up anthology to "Alternative Truths" which came out in the spring,
"Alternative Truths" took "a look at the post-election America that is, or will be, or could be." It was so successful that a sequel was rapidly organized. "Alternative Truths" had two dozen contributors, and "More Alternative Truths" cast an even wider net and brought in some new contributors - including myself.
I went back to my favorite sub-genre, alternate history, and took off from the observation that Donald Trump and Jerry Springer are essentially contemporaries and both grew up in Queens, New York.
Thinking about their similarities and dissimilarities, I was able to spin out one one of my better alternate histories, and perhaps my best short story of the year. Fellow contributor Karen Anderson commented "Lou Antonelli poses an alternate reality so plausible that I emerged from it temporarily disoriented."
High praise indeed, perhaps the goal of any alternate history author?
If you haven't bought and read this anthology yet, you need to:

Monday, January 01, 2018

2017 in Review - No. 9

Almost to the end - 2017 short fiction in review, No. 9:
Which story was "Milady Wakes” which was published in Theme of Absence in, September 2017.
The core of this story is the assertion there's a castle in the British Isles which is so rambling that no one has ever been able to match up the number of windows seen from the inside with the number of windows seen from the outside. I've read that people have even tried to hang towels out the windows, but have been stopped by the proprietors as being too disruptive.
If this is indeed the case, could there be a secret room - and what could the secret be?
It's about time travel done the non-conventional way.

More 2017 in the read view mirror

The 8th story of the year was "The Mole and the Sun", published in John Thiel's Surprising Stories fanzine in September.

It speculates that mythological images are echoes of real people and events in an otherwise forgotten past.

I've had at least one publisher comment that over the years I've written enough stories set in ancient Atlantean times that I probably could assemble a themed collection.

This is another one of those stories.

http://www.surprisingstories.thiels.us/SSV45/Contents45.html

Year in Review Continued:

My 7th short story was "The Orphan Hunter”, published in Aphelion in August 2017.

The genesis of the idea comes from the my participation in the newspaper business, which uses vending machines. Over the years I've noticed that when newspapers - as well as other businesses - go under, they seldom if ever retrieve their vending machines from storefronts and such. They usually abandon them there. Eventually someone will haul them off for scrap.

I thought, what if someone uses a pile of abandoned or junked vending machines to hide something... unusual?

http://www.aphelion-webzine.com/shorts/2017/08/OrphanHunter.html

The subscription saga continues

The new printer was delivered to the Clarksville Times office today, and we got it up and running. We were able to print mailing labels - th...