Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ethical dilemma

I had to ponder an ethical dilemma at work Tuesday. A man committed suicide Monday evening. Many newspapers don'r report suicides because - well, as far as crime news goes, there's no crime involved (suicide is a victimless crime) and also no arrest. Families are almost always devastated by suicides.

However, the circumstances in this case were unusual. The man shot humself on someone else's property, and outdoors; he also used a small caliber handgun, and he wasn't dead when emergency personnel arrived. He was taken by helicopter air ambulance to a hospital in Texarkana.

Needless to say, in a small community, the law enforcement response and the helicopter ambulance attracted a lot of attention, so everyone knew something had happened. I had two people ask me what happened before I made it to the phone and called the Sheriff's Department first thing Tuesday morning.

Circumstances being what they were, I felt there was no way I couldm't write the story up; rumors would have been a lot worse than the truth. I put it on the bottom of the front page, and the one concession I made to sensibilities was that I never used the word "suicide" - although everyone knows what a "self-inflicted gunshot wound" means.

Later in the morning, I was getting phone calls from people who couldn't wait for the paper to come out. One lady called and asked me for some information, which I told her. Before she hung up she said she called us because she knew we are an "honest paper".

That kinda made me feel good.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Tops in Community Service

The Texas Press Association today awarded my newspaper First Place in its annual press contest for Community Service.

Because of deadline issues, I wasn't able to attend the luncheon (it was over 300 miles away). I found out when they posted the winners on-line this afternoon.

In the 20 years I have been a newspaper editor in Texas, this is the first time I've ever taken a first place. The closest I ever came before was a second place in General Excellence in 1989.

The Pentagon wanted to close the Red River Army Depot last year as part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process last year. That would have ripped the guts out of this county, and we fought it tooth and toenail.

Here's what the judges said about our effort:

"This newspaper committed resources from every department to keep the community's spirits up. Its multifaceted approach not only kept the community informed in each issue, but led the battle to get its readers to do something about the problem. And then the newspaper gave the credit to someone else for the success of the battle."

This is the nicest news I've had in a long time. I only became a published s-f author three years ago (my first story, "Silvern", was published in Revolution SF in June 2003), but I've been writing for newspapers for 30 years.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"The Three Year Rule"

Since I bother to maintain a web site (as opposed to this blog), I have offered it as a venue for publishing original fiction, Back in March we had our first submission, "The One Billionth Wish" by Peter J. Rosado.
Philip Hamm, a writer from the U.K., sent in another tale June 6, and I've also published it: "The Three Year Rule". I liked the fact it's almost all dialogue (I'm kinda partial to that - of course, "Rocket" was a monolgue) and the premise behind the story is interesting. It's almost an Orwellian dark fantasy.
Please read it when you have the opportunity:
There is a place at the bottom of the page to log your opinion.
Interestingly enough, both stories came in at 1,700 words.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Book Haul

Just over a week ago, on June 9, I picked up what I estimate to be 400-500 books at an estate sale right here. It was a Friday, and friend called me at work and told me there were boxes and boxes of s-f books at the sale. The widow of a local man who passed away in Oct. 2004 put his library in the sale. When I took a quick look at the books, I realized this man and I had very similar tastes. I offered $75 for the lot and she took it. There were ten boxes and they nearly filled the back of my pickup. I spent until almost midnight looking through the boxes and reorganizing my library at home. The new books created a number of duplications, but I used a number of them to upgrade my library, i.e. swap out paperback versions for hardcovers. The previous owner apparently belonged to the SFBC for years.
Amomg the books I was happiest to see (which I didn't already have) was the first edition of "Dangerous Visions", the "Wandering Stars" anthology, and the Galaxy 30th anniversary anthology. There were also some Omni magazines from the 1980s and copies of F&SF and Aboriginal S-F from the '90s.
This fellow even had a paperback copy of James P. Hogan's
"Inherit the Star". I have a copy I bought in 1984 - it's actually the "oldest" book I have in my personal library (in the sense that I actually bought it for myself - when I was a teenager I always read books from the city and school library).
If you had told me in 1984 that 22 years later James P. Hogan and I would both be guests at the same convention. I would have been stunned - yet that's exactly the case with Conestoga in Tulsa next month.
I was already planning to bring my old copy of "Stars" for Hogan to autograph - but now I'll bring the other fellow's copy. And N.B. He was more on the ball than I was. The edition he bought came out in 1981, so he was three years ahead of me.
I found out later that, sadly, the man who assembled the collection commited suicide. This was before I moved here, and I don't know the details - and really, I don't think anyone else does, either. It's a shame - without sounding maudlin, suicide is such a sad and final thing. I'm glad I have the opportunity to keep the collection mostly intact - although its impossible for me to put all the books up in one place. In addition to those in my office at home, I now have boxes in a storage building behind the house. I also have boxes of non s-f books in a cabin we own near Cedar Creek Lake.
If Patricia and I retire to that cabin in 20 years or so, it may just become one big library.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Third Anniversary

I got an email this past weekend from Sharon Partington, the editor of Worlds of Wonder ezine. She's fixin' to publish my story "The Runner at Dawn" in the WoW summer issue, which will go online July 8. She sent a link to a html page and asked me to proof the story. That was a bit of a new experience - I've never had an online html proof.
I've never had anything published by WoW, but it looks like a nice ezine. "Runner" has been bouncing around for a while; I'm glad to find it a home.
It occurred to me (also this weekend) that this is the third anniversary since I was first published. "Silvern" was published by Revolution SF in June 2003. It seems so long ago. When it's online, "Runner" will be my 25th published story.
The second story I submitted to RevSF, "Silence is Golden" was published in August, and it was the first story that got me an HM in the YBSF. I've had a total of five stories published in RevSF, and gotten three HMs. There is an accepted story sitting over there now.
Since I have been published in so many places, I have been consciously submitting to new venues, which how I came to send a story to WoW. If I counted correctly. I've been published in 11 different places; WoW would be the 12th.
Still haven't cracked a major mag like Asimov's again, though. Just last week I got two rejections from two solid magazines which both said they enjoyed the story, it just didn't rise to the level where it made the cut.
Those rejections are probably the most frustrating of all.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Latest Story

I dropped a story in the mail today to Gordon Van Gelder at F&SF. It's a straight fantasy piece written under the inspiration of this year's Robert E. Howard centennial.

The collaboration between Ed Morris and yours truly is moving along. The story may be ready to go out soon. In this case, it's quite a piece of s-f with almost a retro pulps feel by the end.

Got word from Lawrence Person that the next Turkey City will be Sept. 30. The guest author will be Jeff Vandermeer. The date apparently was picked because it will fall essentially between Armadillocon and the World Fantasy Con.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I spent some time this past weekend finishing up a story Ed Morris and I collaborated on back in February, and sent it off to Andromeda Spaceways.
I'm working an another collaborative effort, a story which may be a prospect to send to Interzone.
My health has been excellent of late - which is unusual. The new Diabetes medicine seems to be working better, and my left knee is only moderately painful.

Whatever happened to that old Sunbelt?

By LOU ANTONELLI Managing Editor It’s rained almost daily for the past four months. The ground is saturated; walking across grass is lik...