Sunday, August 26, 2007

Latest in the writing

I got a start this week on my next story in the story arc that began with "The Witch of Waxahachie". I've gotten down about 3,300 words for "Holley with an E", which is the story where we finally get to meet Republic of Texas President Charles Hardin Holley.

Got good news today - Eric Flint sent the contract for "The Witch of Waxahachie". I saved it, read it, and approved it in a couple of hours. The terms are the same as he told me in Tulsa - it's slated to run next April.

Not much else to report. The health is doing fine - I'm consistently getting blood pressure readings in the Pre-Hypertenson range, which is a great improvement.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Report from the cha room

I was on the chat at the Writing to Publish chat room last night. Writing to Publish isn't specifically a F&SF group, but I think I was able to help. There were probably a dozen people there.

I finished up "Ed Sullivan Show Magic" and it went in the mail today. I ran it past the Baen's Slush and got a couple of good critiques before completing it. I may run my next story by another critique group, though, just to spread the pain.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Writing to Publish chat

I will be the guest Monday night, August 21, for a chat with the Writing 2 Publish group:

It will be held at 7 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

They describe themselves as a "critique group dedicated to helping fiction writers develop their talents and get published. This site showcases the work of our members, and serves to assist all writers in improving their skills."

They meet live every Monday night on AOL online, but once a month have a special topic or speaker, and I will be there tomorrow night. Stop on by.

I finished the first draft of "Ed Sullivan Show Magic" last night and now I'm tweaking the story. This follows in the story arc that's started with "The Witch of Waxahachie". I think as a result of this story I may have what may become the title of the book which is evolving.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Saturday night at Nasfic

Saturday night was the only night I was at Nasfic where I could visit a few suites. I wasn't there Thursday, and I was exhausted after the train trip Friday.

I was still feeling fairly woozy, but well enough to visit a few. The SFWA suite was fairly quiet, at least while I was there, and they had good food and drinks. Unfortunately, the way I was feeling all weekend I never touched a drop.

I stopped by David Hartwell's suite for Tor. We chatted briefly. He was handing out some old advance copies from his office, and I picked up "Gladiator" by Harry Turtledove and Matt Jarpe's "Radio Freefall".

In chatting with David I mentioned my interest in South Africa as an alternate history subject, and he introduced me to Thomas Hill, a fellow who grew up in Capetown but now lives in New York. We had a LONG conversation. It was great to find someone who could talk about SA so knowledgeably. I told him about "The Amerikaan Way", the story published by Atomjack in April.

Monday, August 13, 2007


I didn't mean to post the same video twice. Here's the second one:


Whoops! I forgot to mention that Mel Tatum was on that last panel on "How to Know When to Stop Writing" and in fact did a very fine job as moderator (moderatrix?)

Oh, BTW, a quixk comment: This was the first con ever where my name was on the t-shirt, since they listed all the guests on the back. Minor ego-boo, but still nice.

OK, here's a pair of videos - and if you ever read a story by me called "Ed Sullivan Show Magic" - which is part of my "Witch of Waxahachie" story arc - you'll know why these are grouped:

"Lost and Forgotten Writers from the Pulp Fiction Era"

This panel Saturday morning was probably the single panel I enjoyed the most. I must admit the "Far Out Physics" panel Friday night was the best attended one I participated in - and it must have been one of the more successful panels at NASFIC - but "Pulp Writers" was also very well attended, and I was able to contribute more (my practical knowledge of physics being negligible)

I assumed someone must have read someplace where the blog No Fear of the Future called me "the heir to the old penny a word pulps."

I brought along some old crumbling pulp magazines to display on the table. As it happened, another panelist, Lloyd Kropp, did the same thing.

David Hartwell was on the panel. This was a first for me, and as it happened, he had a lot to contribute. We all had a good time, and there was a good interaction with members of the audience. I think everyone had a good time.

The magazine I took were all duplicates from when I had bought lots on eBay, so I didn't intend to haul them back to Texas, and when I mentioned this, there was a rush to the table. Hartwell took a copy of Amazing Stories from 1947 that featured The Shaver Mystery. Kropp also took a copy of Amazing, and the rest went to audience members.

David and I chatted briefly after the panel. I didn't know he grew up in Massachusetts, also. Lloyd said he enjoyed my contributions to the panel.

My next panel was "Knowing When to Stop Writing". I think this was a very helpful panel to the people who attended. There were some very good writers on the panel, including Robert Reed, Dave Marusek, Rob Chilsson, Thomas Stratman, Richard Lee Byers and Laura Underwood.

Most of the discussion was on how to know what you've got, such as a short story as opposed to a novella as opposed to a novel, and when to what what and where is going wrong in your story.

Rob Chilson is very enthusiastic about his craft and is great to watch on a panel. It was fun just to sit next to him. Dave Marusek as usual has some real helpful pithy advice. At one point, discussing what type of story fits into what length of story, he opined that a short story is long enough to tell about an incident, a novella is long enough to tell about a person's life, and a novel is long enough to to describe a world.

I had one of those light bulb moments when he said this, because I realized that's why "The Witch of Waxahachie" and the related stories I am working on can develop into a novel, because I created a world with "Witch".

I later told Dave in the hallway that his advice at ConDFW in 2003 helped me break into magazines (success in 1/3 luck, 1/3 talent and 1/3 connections) and now this latest piece of advice would help me break into novels.

That was my last panel of the day, I went to a few parties Saturday night. More on that in my next post.

Oh, on the health front, I'm feeling much better. The inner ear infection is getting beaten back by the antibiotics, and my blood pressure is now in the low range for Stage I Hypertension - which is a big improvement. I have to take my blood pressure at home every night and turn a log over to my doctor.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Armadillocon, and more and NASFIC

Armadillocon in Austin was held this weekend. Needless to say, I didn't make it. I would like to have seen a few people, but the combination of my new job (I work Saturdays now) and my recovering health pretty much scotched that. Besides, I've never been invited to be a guest or panelist,

One nice thing about NASFIC was the opportunity to visit with people I wouldn't ordinarily see. Of course, there's always the case when you find someone who's not talkative or friendly. Some people don't have high social skills, and a few, I'm sure, are just stuck up.

Gordon Van Gelder stopped and chatted with me in the lobby of the convention center Saturday afternoon. We talked a bit about stories, but realy I was kinda interested in how the new periodical postal rate increase of this summer is affecting small magazines. Gordon said it's tough, and although he can weather it, some of the smaller magazines will probably fold.

It's probably goofy to talk about that, but as a onetime holder of a periodical permit for my own newspaper - only six years ago - I was curious to get that perspective from Gordon, who's his own publisher.

I also stopped and chatted with Eric Flint outside for a while between panels. He also introduced me briefly to Toni Weisskopf at the Holiday Inn.

Before the panel on Far Out Physics Saturday night, Ted Kosmatka came up and introduced himself. Ted's first pro-level story, "The God Engine", was published in Asimov's in November 2005, just two months after my "Rocket for the Republic" - so I guess we're both new writers.

Ted was very friendly and we chatted a bit. We both have high opinions of each other's stories and got better acquainted.

My first panel on Saturady morning was on "Lost and Forgotten Authors from the Pulp Era". That panel went very well, and I'll take it up in my next posting.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

On Nasfic (Friday)

The train arrived in St. Louis 45 minutes late. That combined with the fact I had fallen asleep and didn't get off the train until it was in the station a half hour combined so that I missed my first panel at 10 a.m. Friday, "Is There Room in an SF Universe for God?"
My next two panels were back to back starting at noon at the Holiday Inn, "Laugh It Up, Fuzzball" at noon and "What do Aliens Mean in Popular Culture?" at 1 p.m. That was good because I was able to sit still and catch my breath.
Steve Silver did a great job as moderator. This was the first time I was on a panel with Senela "Shrinking Violet" Rosen. The other panelist was Laura Underwood.
I met Dave Marusek at this panel; he was a panelist at the very first panel I attended (ConDFW) in 2003. I told him how much I had appreciated the advice he had given then.
I was on a panel Friday night at 8 p.m. "Far Out Physics". I was worried that - being opposite the Guest of Honor interview - no one would come. But the room was packed, standing room only.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Reports of my... oh, well

I had a great time in St. Louis - or should I say Collinville, across the river - and it will probably take a few posts to say everything.
Bear in mind, my weekend ended with my being rushed to the emergency room at a local hospital. If I had been better, I probably would have had a spectacular weekend.
You see, Sunday afternoon I collapsed in the Green Room at the Gateway Convention Center, and I was taken to Anderson Hospital in Maryville, Illinois. Now that the proverbial dust has cleared, I can look back and see what all led up to the fiasco.
I've had a problem with allergies all this year; it's probably been aggravated by the wet spring we had in Texas. For the past few months, I've been taking Benedryl on a regular basis.
I didn't realize it, but I had developed a sinus infection, and before I left on Thursday it probably had begun to spread to my left inner ear. Now, the complication was that I took the train to St. Louis.
Ordinarily, the train would be comfortable, but with the constant rocking on the rails - and my ear filling with fluid - I developed terrible motion sickness. By Friday morning, as we rolled through Missouri, I was retching in a trash can.
I was so drained that when the train actually arrived in St. Louis, I didn't wake up. A train crew member woke me and got me off the train at the very last minute.
The con committee was nice enough to send someone out to get me, and I lucked out and got a room in a motel across from the convention center.
With a little rest, I felt better, and I began my rounds of panels. But I didn't know what really had caused the motion sickness.
Now, a second problem kicked in. I've been taking medicine for high blood pressure for over two years. Recently, it hasn't been working as well as needed. Quite honestly, I was waiting for a change in my job before it could be adjusted. I was working so long and hard that it was probably causing most of the problem.
Well, my last month on the old job I had to work two positions. It was the hardest stint I ever did. For three days in there, I actually had to do three Jobs. But I started my new job the Tuesday before the con.
I guess going from such a hard job to starting the new job to the con was a strain. I also compounded it by eating junk food. My diet on Friday and Saturday was mostly White Castle, pepperoni pizza and soft pretzels.
I had been feeling woozy and lightheaded at times all weekend. My last panel was Sunday at 10 a.m. I got a nice half hour chair massage at 11:30, and went to get some lunch, but I began to real REALLY bad. I also was getting very sensitive to hustle and bustle of the con. The noise and light hurt.
I remembered the Green Room, and went in there. It WAS nice and quiet, and I laid down, but I felt worse and worse and after a half hour realized not only could I not get up, but I was in danger of passing out entirely.
I used my cell phone and called 911. The emergency type people came and took me to the local hospital, where they found my blood pressure was reaching stroke level (like around 210/140). They gave me some meds to drop it down and after a few hours, after I was stable, they let me go.
Steve Norris, the chair of the Archon Committee, had called Patricia at home. Beth Bancroft from the Archon Committee stayed with me at the hospital. Bless her heart!
Archon gave me a room at the Holiday Inn Sunday night, while Patricia made arrangements to fly back. Monday morning they drove me to the airport (I was still suffering motion sickness - at one point, they had to stop the van so I could retch out the side).
Thanks to Dramamine - and two very smooth flights - I made it back to Texarkana Monday afternoon. Tuesday morning, I saw my personal physician. She found out about the infection that had affected my inner ear and prescribed antibiotics.
As for the blood pressure, she doubled the dosage of the medicine I have been taking, prescribed a second one, and gave me a third to only be used in case of an emergency such as happened Sunday.
I also bought a home blood pressure monitor; I have to check my blood pressure twice a day, and turn the results into my doctor.
While I was in the emergency room at the hospital, as I was recovering I regaled Beth Bancrodft with imagined headlines:
"Author drops dead at NASFIC;
'We never lost one before', says Archon chair."
Well, I guess later I'll actually talk about the con!

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...