Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Talking to the class

I had the opportunity Saturday to talk for about a half hour to a creative writing class being taught at Northeast Texas Community College at its campus in Pittsburg. The instructor is Jory Sherman, who is more of a western and mystery writer. We have a mutual friend in Joe Lansdale, and some time back - when I realized Jory lived so close to me - I told him if he ever wanted or needed a guest lecturer, I would volunteer.

The class had about a dozen students. Although I dashed in on a pillar of fire - I was very rushed because I had just put the Sunday paper to bed - I still think I made sense and rushed through a lot of tips in a short while. Apparently I independently recapitulated some pointers Jory had given earlier, which impressed the students with their validity.

It was the last class of the session and I think a useful and entertaining conclusion.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Latest story

I finished "Rock and Roll's Daughter" today and dropped it in the mail. This is the first short story I've completed after finishing up my book, "Dance with me, Henry" this summer. It's set in the same universe as "The Witch of Waxahachie" and essentially introduces Raevon Holley, President Holley's daughter, who is also his most valuable secret agent.

It came in right at 5,000 words and is a nice first attempt at developing a character who may become important later. We'll see what kind of reception it gets.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hackers kill ezine

A quarterly webzine, Sepentarius, which paid five cents a word, met its demise recently for what is probably the worst of all reasons - hacking. The word went out via Ralan as well as the SFWA newsletter. Here is the word as posted on their own web site:


We were hacked again, and were used as a malware distribution point. We were locked out until today. We still DO NOT have access to email. Our benefactor has pulled the plug.
We tried our best to give pro pay genre writers a chance to get published. Apparently hackers feel we shouldn't. That's it, we are through.
For the five authors who have received payments for the September issue, enjoy the bonus. You are free to submit your excellent stories elsewhere. I will follow up with a release of contract.
If you know some teen named Ghost51, tell him thanks for ruining things.
We will be removing this website at the end of September.


I mean, that really stinks.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Gather up the magazines

To expand a little bit on my previous post: Jory Sherman (http://www.jorysherman.com/)is an accomplished author who lives in Pittsburg, Texas, and teaches a course in creative writing at the local community college. Some time back I told him if he ever wanted someone to talk about s-f and fantasy, I'd be happy to talk to his students. He's taken me up on my offer. Insofar as I am so recent an author, I suspect I'll have some good advice for them on how to break into the field

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Musing on fiction

An instructor at the local community college has asked me to give a presentation as part of his class in creatuve writing on Saturday afternoon. This should be fun.

Monday, September 22, 2008

BSFA Awards

Winners of the British Fantasy Awards, presented this weekend at Fantasycon, include:

The Sydney J. Bounds Best Newcomer Award: Scott Lynch

BFS Special Award: 'The Karl Edward Wagner Award': Ray Harryhausen

Best Non-Fiction: Peter Tennant for Whispers of Wickedness Website Reviews (Whispers of Wickedness)

Best Artist: Vincent Chong

Best Small Press: Peter Crowther, PS Publishing

Best Anthology: Stephen Jones for The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 18 (Robinson)

Best Collection: Christopher Fowler for Old Devil Moon (Serpents Tail)

Best Short Fiction: Joel Lane for "My Stone Desire" (Black Static #1, TTA Press)

Best Novella: Conrad Williams for The Scalding Rooms (PS Publishing)

Best Novel: 'The August Derleth Fantasy Award': Ramsey Campbell for The Grin of The Dark (PS Publishing)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Back to the keyboard

I haven't posted this week because I got caught up in writing my first short story since I finished my book ("Dance with me, Henry"). It's set in the same world as "The Witch of Waxahachie". The first sequel out of the gate, "Holley with an E", takes the alternate history version of Buddy Holly and brings him to center stage as the President of the Republic of Texas. In the process of trimming that story down at the request of the publication which now has it, I took out an introduction to the President's daughter, Raevon Holley. The story I'm working n now, "Rock 'n Roll's Daughter", takes Raevon Holley and brings her to center stage.

BTW, "Dance with me, Henry" has nothing to do with these "Waxahachie" series stories. Although the Waxahachie stories may be strung together eventually into a book - and indeed, a criticism I heard more than once about "The Witch of Waxahachie" was that it seemed like a book excerpt - the series hasn't accumulated yet enough to make it to book length.

"Dance" on the other hand, came together in one big outline, and isn't related to anything else I ever wrote. It clocked in at just over 102,000 words.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Visit with Tom Doherty

Here is a copy of the story I wrote about the Tor.com web site after interviewing Tom Doherty Tuesday. It was published in the Mount Pleasant, Tx., Daily Tribune today. It was easy to get reprint rights, since I'm also the managing editor.


Web site creates portal for science fiction fans
Managing Editor
With the internet becoming a bigger part of everyone’s life, its uses have also proliferated. Once used simply for email, bulletin boards and research, today it is also a major source of entertainment.
A New York City-based book publisher stepped out recently and created an innovative web site that combines blogs, bookmarks, and the other common personal uses of the internet with original science fiction literature and art, published free on-line as a comprehensive web portal for people interested in the genre.
The fact Tor Books publishes science fiction and fantasy may be a reason the web site has done so well, says the company founder and President Tom Doherty.
“Science fiction readers are early adapters,” said Doherty, “It’s a fast changing field.”
Doherty, 73, has seen a lot of technological change since he got his start in the business as a salesman for Pocket Books in 1957. He says the latest innovation with the Tor.com web site is a wonderful tool to allow the company to interactively “communicate more broadly with its readers.”
Doherty founded Tor books in 1980, and it is the most successful of all science-fiction publishers. It has won the award as Best Science Fiction Publisher in the annual poll conducted by Locus magazine - a trade publication of the science fiction field - for the last 21 years.
Since the Tor.com web site was launched in July it has featured original fiction by some of the best-known and “hottest” names in the genre, included Stephen Gould (whose book ‘Jumper’ was recently made into a motion picture), Charles Stross, John Scalzi, Cory Doctorow, Elizabeth Bear, and others. It also features original art with image galleries from today’s most celebrated science fiction and fantasy artists
Tor.com will also serve as a major social networking destination where registered member SF and fantasy enthusiasts can engage with one another and personalize their online experiences.
Doherty – who’s usually described as a ‘living legend’ in the publishing industry – said the development of the Tor.com web site was a collaborative effort that spanned a two years and involved many people, including editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden.
“I am very proud of it, it came out very well,” he said. “Everything came together.”
Given its audience, Tor took advantage of the annual comics convention in San Diego held this summer (Comic Con, July 24-27) which drew 130,000 people for the rollout of the web site.
“The roll out went great,” said Doherty. “We got great feedback. Everyone was very enthusiastic.”
Doherty’s publishing company, Tor/Forge (the Forge imprint publishes other types of fiction, including a strong line of historical novels, thrillers, and American westerns) had a web site, Tor-Forge.com, but it wasn’t meeting the need Doherty saw.
“The web site is great as a catalogue, but we wanted something broader, we needed to communicate more broadly with our readers,” he said.
The days of supermarkets and drug stores having long book shelves and wire spinner book racks are almost gone, he said, a victim of market pressures, he said.
While committed readers still go to book stores, those other traditional outlets for impulse buying of paperback books have almost disappeared. “It’s a big problem,” said Doherty.
Those impulse buys in other retail locations have traditionally been a way many people find a first book they like, perhaps leading them to become regular science fiction readers, he noted. “When we lost that, we lost an important part of our outreach,” he said.
The creation of the Tor.com web site is an attempt to re-create what was lost, “some kind of modern equivalent,” where people can go to try out the latest literature in the field.
“It’s a step in the right direction. It’s a way to let the world know that this kind of thing is out there,” he said. For example, on Thursday the web site published an original short story by Elizabeth Bear, “The Girl Who Sang Rose Madder”.
Once on the web site to read the free on-line fiction, visitors can also check out blog postings by the authors themselves. Authors such as Stross, Scalzi, Doctorow, Gould and Bear frequently post on the web site, as well as others, such as Editor Patrick Nielsen-Hayden.
While there, the readers can check out the other features, such as links and bookmarks, they will also see what books Tor is publishing. “We want to attract people so they will be coming back week after week,” he said. “Most people can tell vey quickly, after visiting the web site one time, whether they are interested in what we are offering.”
As much as he likes the web site, Doherty says he doesn’t post all that often. “I’m too bloody slow typing,” he says with a laugh.
One of the things that has kept Doherty at the top of his field for so many years is being on the cutting edge of landmark publications. “I learned from the best,” he said, “Ian and Betty Ballantine.”
The husband and wife team helped start Bantam Books after World War II and went on to found Ballantine Books, which became the most prominent publisher of science fiction during the Golden Age of the 1950s.
The Ballantines made history in the 1960s when they acquired the rights to publish the works in the United States of a British university language professor who wrote fantasy on the side. The paperback publication of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “The Hobbit” in the United States by J.R. R. Tolkien is widely credited as the start of the modern era for the fantasy genre.
Doherty follows in the same tradition today, and those “impulse” visitors to the Tor.com web site will see the company is about to release “Paul of Dune” on Tuesday, Sep. 16, a direct sequel to the famous Frank Herbert novel, written by his son, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson.
Despite being in the thick of the book publishing industry for over half a century, Doherty says he has no plans to retire. “I still enjoy being active and involved. I think it would be very dull to retire, although,” he said with a chuckle, “I probably should take more vacations.”

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Interview with Tom Doherty

Two weeks ago the PR firm hired by Tor books to beat the drum for the new Tor.com web site contacted me in my capacity as managing editor of my newspaper to pitch a story idea. Each Sunday we have a page devoted to only entertainment news, and I thought Tor.com - web portal that it is - fit the bill, and told them I was game. Through their auspices, I had an interview this afternoon with Tom Doherty himself. It was informative and fascinating, and will have my article written up by the end of the week. Quite an experience.

Friday, September 05, 2008

You knew this was coming...

Just a note: My tombstone will read

"HAH! Lou Antonelli expected the Spanish Inquisition!"

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...