Saturday, March 31, 2007

More on AggieCon, and another publication

Although I've known and corresponded with Joe Lansdale for a few years now, and have met him a few times at cons, AggieCon was the first time we were ever on panels together.

In fact, we were on two panels back to back Saturday morning. The first, mentioned in my last post, was on Book Collecting at 10 a.m. My next panel of the day was "Pimp Your Book". It was originally slated for 3 p.m., but was moved to 11:15, so it came right afterwards.

In this case, Joe was little off center, because he is so successful and well-read that his experience isn't typical. He doesn't have to tout his own publications because he has an agent and publisher who do that for him. He doesn't have to schedule book signings because he has publishers who will send him off on book tours.

Beverly Hale and Jayme Blaschke were also on this panel, and we, on the other hand, have more in common, and could talk about blogs web pages and such. We talked about how to make contacts on the internet. Beverly and I both have been known to send out old-fashioned news releases. Jayme is a little more familiar with podcasts.

Theresa Patterson also addressed a lot of the same topics, although since she does a lot of collaboration and ghost writing the particulars are different.

After the panel it was lunch time. Jayme was nice enough to treat me to a burrito place I had never heard of, Freebirds. Their large is the size of an artillery shell. We sat on the patio, bullshat and enjoyed the good weather.

I'll go over more from AggieCon in the next post. Meanwhile, I received word that Darker Matter has its April edition on-line. It includes my short story "Avatar", a little piece of strangeness that combines alternative with secrrt history.

With "The Amerikaan Way" at Atomjack, that's two stores in two weeks. So far, 2007 is turning out good.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

AggieCon adventure

Well, I spent last weekend in College Station for AggieCon (No. 38 by number). Last year was the first time I went. Of course, AggieCon is a Texas institution. I know some much older-timers who say it used to be a lot bigger, but it's jyst fine by me.
Last year was the first time I was a regional guest. This year they were nice enough to pick up the tab for my room, and I was on four panels.
I told them I couldn't make any Friday panels, since I had to work. I knocked off at 4 p.m. Friday and was on the way 45 minutes later. Unfortunately, there's no reallu good direct route from this corner of Texas to College Station. It's normally a six hour trip. I took Hwy. 82 from Hooks to New Boston, Hwy. 8 to Corley, Hwy. 67 to Mount Pleasant, Highway 271 to Tyler (the longest single stretch, almost 70 miles), Hwy. 69 to Palestine, Hwy. 79 to Hearne and Hwy. 109 to College Station.
Because of the dark and some convoys, especially between Palestine and Hearne, where the highway was two lanes (the convoys are Mexicans hualing used cars to the border, two by two), it took me EIGHT hours. I got to the Plaza Hotel at the corner of Texas and University at quarter to midnight.
Next morning I staggered into the breakfast bar and right into Joe and Karen Lansdale. I haven't seen Joe in person since the summer of 2004. Joe was in a good mood all weekend; of course, he should be. This weekend he's in Toronto accepting at the Horror Writers Worldcon accepting their Grandmaster Award.
The hotelwas good about shutting us to the Memorial Student Center. I registered and was on a 10 a.m. panel on Book Collecting. This was also the first time I was on a panel with Joe. Other panel members included Bill Crider, Rick Klaw and Allen Porter. I'm really not much of a book collector, so I listened a lot and learner some stuff. I didn't know Klaw has been in the book selling business for 20 years.

OK, that's enough on AggieCon for now. I need to get to my office and work on some subs. Latest News: Atomjack has published my alternate history, "The Amerikaan Way". Go read it at I like what they did with the flag, using the designe of the current South African flag with the stars and stripes (or is it the stars and bars?).

Darker Matter should be publishng "Avatar" on April 1. That's two alternate histories in a week. I dropped copies of "Amerikaan Way" in the mail today to Harry Turtledove, Howard Waldrop and Gardner Dozois. I think it's my best alternate tale yet.

OK, I'll be back in a while with more on AggieCon.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Off to Aggiecon

After I get out of work tomorrow (Friday) I'm driving down to College Station for AggieCon. Last year was the first time I attended, and I enjoyed it. I'm glad to be going back.

I have four panels, with a number of people I've gotten to know in this fiction racket.

I really dont know what "The Art of Collecting" is about, but it's my first panel at 10 a.m. Saturday. Fellow panelist include Mojo Joe Lansdale, Rick Klaw - one of the most friendly con guests I know - Scott Cupp and Bill Crider.

Joe Lansdale is also on the 3 p.m. panel "Pimp Your Book", along with old chum Jayme Blaschke, and Beverly Hale - another person who's always cheerful.

Bev Hale is also on the 5:30 p.m. panel on "Literary Collaboration". Maureen McHugh is on this panel; I've never met her before.

Sunday I'm on a panel at 10 a.m. on "Writing Effective Short Stories". Colleagues include Martha Wells, who is probably the person I've seen the most often at cons. She was at ConDFW - the first con I ever attended - in 2003. I even saw her at Philcon in 2003.

As Jackie Gleason used to say, "And away we go!"

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Another sale

I got some good news this week. Atomjack has bought my story “The Amerikaan Way” and will be publishing it in April. This is my fifth sale so far this year.

Darker Matter and Twisted Tongue (in the U.K. have already weighed in so far. Atomjack is a nice little ezine. I think I’ve adopted an unofficial career goal of being published in 100 different publications. I’m a third of the way there already.

I made a goal for 2007 of moving out some of my backlog. Between these zines and Sentinel S-F, I’ve already committed seven stories. I’m doing this because:

1. Some of these tales just aren’t going to make it in the majors, and
2: I need to write new stuff.

The strategy seems to be working, and I’m beginning to see my inventory dwindle. It’s a good incentive for me to keep after it. During the past four years I’ve been writing, it’s not uncommon for me to have 18-20 stories bouncing between different slushpiles. At end of 2006, I noticed I had so many stories out there that I was effectively blocking myself off from sending perhaps newer and better stories to some places because of the older, and possibly not quite as polished, newer stuff. So I decided on a policy to more aggressively move out the older stories.

For example, “Insight” is my very oldest story, written in the fall of 2002 (not counting “Two Men in a Cave Without a Net”, which I wrote in 1988 and published in January on Sentinel S-F.) I peddled "Insight” off to Twisted Tongue. Howard Waldrop likes to note that he has a well-established reputation of selling stories to the LOWEST possible bidder. I may be giving him a run for his (lack of) money, but writing a lot and often seems to work best for me, so I have a lot of stories to peddle. Chris Nakashima-Brown hit the nail on the head when he posted on the blog “No Fear of the Future” that I was the “heir of the penny a word pulps.” I probably would have done great in the ’30s.

Getting back to “The Amerikaan Way”, it’s alternate history where the POD is that Pegleg Pete Stuyvesant repels the British from seizing New Amsterdam in 1664, and it continues as a Dutch colony until the time of the American Revolution. You can imagine the geographic complications of having the British colonies split by the Mid-Atlantic Dutch colony. The nub of the issue is that the V.S.A, (which is what the nation is later called) develops into the Apartheid regime in the 20th century instead of South Africa. The story’s protagonist is from a democratic and multi-racial South Africa, on a trip to notify his corporate office in New Amsterdam that they are bowing to international sanctions and cutting off trade with the polecat Amerikaan regime. But there’s a lot of skullduggery afoot, and as usual for an Antonelli story, plot twists and irony.

When I visited with him at ConDFW, I told Harry Turtledove that since I studied South African history in college I’ve used some of it in my stories. When it’s published, maybe I’ll send him a copy of “The Amerikaan Way”. I think it’s one of my better alternate histories (or at least my best solo effort, although I think at least a couple I’ve collaborated on with Ed Morris are at least as good, if not better).

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Finale on ConDFW

On Sunday I was fortunate to visit more with Harry Turtledove, both between panels and even in the sitting around in the lobby.

Brad Sinor hosted a Q&A session with Turtledove, and I took the opportunity to ask a question which has been on my mind for years: In "The Guns of the South" the main bad guy is a South African named Rhoodie. I always wondered whether Turtledove used that name because it was in the news because of a RSA government scandal in the 1980s. One of the reasons Prime Minister B.J. Vorster resigned was because it was learned the government had secretly funded a project to purchase and/or influence English-language newspapers in the country. The government official who has run the razzle-dazzle was named Eschel Rhoodie.

Turtledove said he didn't know anything about that, he just wanted a reliably Afrikaner name. Of course, there's always the possibility he had heard the name and dropped in into his mental Rolodex. In another contest during the same Q&A session, he mentioned the problem authors constantly face of "idea pollution". Many s-f readers would be surprised to learn actually how little some authors read, because of that.

I visited with him after the panel. He seemed to take note of my knowledge of the RSA. Later that day, while chatting in the lobby, I mentioned a story idea, adding that I have never written it up because I don't think it would sell anywhere. He encouraged to forge ahead anyway, and dropped an idea for a twist that hadn't crossed my mind.

At 1 p.m. I moderated a panel on "How to Escape from the Slush Pile" in the main programming room with Stephen Brust, Robert Aspirin, Martha Wells and Emma Bull. It was a very informative panel, but some of the experiences and opinions of the panels were directly contradictory. I hope we didn't leave people confused.

For example, we talked a lot about rejection, but Asprin said he's never really had any. I touted the virtues of getting exposure to get your name around, but Brust said exposure is what you die of in the Arctic. I am proud I was able to keep the panel rolling forward and that I prevented any bickering. It dawned on me that maybe one of the reasons I moderate well is because I've served in various boards and clubs over the years (including a school board, library board and animal shelter board). Hey, compared to running a Lions Club meeting in a small town (I am a former Lions Club president), moderating a panel at a s-f panel is a cinch.

The last thing I attended was Mel Tatum's reading, and then I hit the road for home at about 4:30 p.m.

I think things went very well, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Another sale

The new ezine Darker Matter has bought my short story "Avatar" and will publish it in its second issue, which comes out in April. The first issue this month features short stories by David D. Levine, Edward M. Lerner, Bud Sparhawk, Duncan Long, and Ken Brady.
I found out about Darker Matter through a link on Locus on-line. Needless to say, I was impressed by the line-up. The editor, Ben Coppin, seems to off to a great start.
Although Twisted Tongue in the U.K. has already accepted three of my stories for 2007, its next issue in in May, so it looks like Darker Matter will be my first publication for 2007 (notwithstanding, of course, the stories I have published myself at Sentinel S-F)
I got an email rejection this morning from Neo-Opsis for a story I submitted to them in January 2005. Wow! I workshopped that story at a Turkey City in March 2005 and it was published by OG Speculative Fiction as "Berserker" last September.
Back to ConDFW: On Saturday, I had one panel, the Writers of the Future Panel with Linda Donahue, Amy Sisson and K.D. Wentworth. Sissons was the moderator, but Wentworth really led things, since she is the lead editor for the writing side of he contest. She brought a video which she showed on her laptop about WOTF. It was very informative.
I submitted a couple of time when I first began writing four years ago, but quit - mainly after they lost one of my submissions for a year, but I've started again, mostly on the basis of what Wentworth has said at some previous cons. I will keep after it. Under their guidelines, I'm still eligible to compete, since I haven't had three pro sales.
This was the only panel I had at the con that I didn't moderate, which turned out to be a piece of luck. I had some stuff for Harry Turtledove to sign, but both his signings, on Saturday and Sunday, were at the same times as my panels. Since I didn't moderate the WOTF panel, I cut out for a few minutes and stepped outside to get my stuff signed.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Well, I guess I'll take a little time and talk about how much I enjoyed ConDFW in Dallas last weekend. They were very good to me; I had three panels - one each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday - and moderated two of them.
I cut out from work at 2 p.m. and arrived in Dallas in good time for my first panel, which was at 5 p.m. with Mel Tatum on "The Creative Process".
First off, I was amazed that I had nothing to cover over that weekend, Feb. 23-25. With my job as a newspaper editor, I often have to run out on nights and weekend for special events. There wasn't a single thing on my calendar, which saved me the trouble of asking a staff member to sub for me (by contrast, next Sunday afternoon, March 11, I have to cover a beauty pageant).
Another good omen: Driving in from East Texas, I heard on the radio there was a serious traffic jam on the LBJ Loop north of Dallas. I was already concerned about hitting Dallas at rush hour, and when I heard that, I began to get concerned. I thought I might try an alternate route to get to Richardson, which is where the con actually was, but I haven't lived in Dallas for years and I couldn't remember a way.
As it turned out, the wreck and backup was in the eastbound lanes, and I was heading westbound, so I avoided it. If it had been the other way around, I never would have made that first panel.
I think the con heard back from some people who couldn't get in too early on Friday, because when Dan Robb (the programming chairman) originally issued the programming schedule, the panel had four people, but the final version had just me and Mel. Lee Killough was kind enough to sit in, however, so we had a nice lineup. I think there were probably ten people in the audience, which isn't bad for the start of a con, and things went very well.
I visited briefly with GOH Harry Turtledove after the opening ceremonies that evening. He was very genial but seemed tired, I guess, after the long trip from California.
I attended the Yard Dog Road Show that evening for an hour, which was about about as much of that silliness I could take. I guess I was at a disadvatage in the audience (I was sober). This stuff must seem funnier if you're plastered.
One strange thing: Mel Tatum did a skit called the "The Yard Dog Whisperer", a play on Cesar Milan's how "The Dog Whisperer". At one point, in a bit of burlesque on how to really handle a recalcitrant dog, she threw a noose on one (stuffed) dog and hanged him.
When she started to into this piece of business, I wondered how I would take it, since I've had such emotional experience with dogs - from a 13-year old German Shepherd was passed away in my arms from old age to the rescue dog who attacked my wife and left her an amputee with no right index finger.
I got nauseous. I guess that was a purely visceral reaction. I have no idea what it means. I didn't get unwell enough to leave, then.
Before heading to bed I visited a few suites. FenCon Chairman Tim Miller mentioned in the ORAC suite that, since this was the last week coming up for Hugo nominations, they'd appreciate consideration of the FenCon III program book for "Best Related Book" or whatever that category is. I made a note of that and when I got back home after the con I pulled the book out. I forget what a great job they did last year on that program book, and the next day when I mailed in my ballot, I nominated it. I really appreciated the suggesstion, that's a hard category for me to nominate in since I don't read much, if any, s-f related non-fiction.
More later.

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