Friday, October 31, 2008

A scary story

in honor of Halloween. This scene is from the Peter Bogdanovich movie "Targets". Boris Karloff plays a character very much like himself, who decides to retire from movie making because the real world has become more horrible than his play acting.
This is a short throw-away scene, but this is also the essence of great story-telling: A master story-teller (Karloff makes it look easy, but pay attention to his voice and expressions) and an audience that wants to be entertained.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Got 'er done

Finished up "Dispatches from The Troubles" tonight. Came in at 11,434 words, 60 pages. One of the few novellettes I've ever written. It is ready to go out in tomorrow's mail. I was right on my guess earlier in the week on length and completion time. It took me a month; I sent off "Rock and Roll's Daughter" Sept. 29.
This is the 77th story I've written since I started in August 2002; I've had 38 publications (39 if you count the upcoming publication of "The Silver Dollar Saucer").

Off to bed. Tired.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Almost done

"Dispatches from the Troubles" is almost done, and should come in right at 12,000 words. This will be the longest thing I'ver written, other than the book. I expect it will be tweaked and ready to send off by the end of the week.

Friday, October 24, 2008

This much

Got an email rejection from overseas today. Damn, as Maxwell Smart used to say, missed it by this much:

"We always look forward to reading a new submission from you, so thanks for sending on "The Devil We Know". It's well written and intriguing, and we've come to expect. But I'm afraid we'll have to pass on this one too, the best of luck in finding it a home elsewhere, and DO keep submitting to..."

Jeez. That's still encouraging.

Back to what is already a novelette, "Dispatches from the Troubles".

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dispatches from The Troubles

Up to 8,000 words on the story. This will be coming in at novellette or even possibly novella length. I have some crucial alt hist issues to decide as we careen towards a conclusion.

GVG returned "Rock and Roll's Daughter'. I made some changes - completely changing where the story began - losing over 200 words in the process and, I think, helping the pacing a bit. I sent it off the Sheila today. I'm not sure that she'd want an AH tale, but on the other hand, it's her call. She already has a YA story of mine in her slush pile.

Looking over the revised version of "Rock and Roll's Daughter", my impression was I did all the right tweaks. It may be a very good stab at a sequel to "The Witch of Waxahachie".

I promised Brad Sinor I'd get back to a near future memory regression story we've kinda cooked up, with the working title of "Blue Tango". I'd says its about halfway done. I will get back to it after "Dispatches from the Troubles" is finished.

Won't have time to write this evening, I have to attend a local Chamber of Commerce banquet.

"Hemingway, after all you are 90% Rotarian."
"Can't you make it 80%."
"No. I can't."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

O'Flaherty's Cantina

I'm up to 6,000 words in "Dispatches from The Troubles" and yes, I did get a scene set in a pub called O'Flaherty's Cantina.

Took a break during the afternoon and watched "Starship Troopers 3" on DirecTV. I wouldn't have paid more than the $3.99 that I did, but for what it was, it had its moments.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Irish/Mexican bar?

Funny how real life and alternate history can intersect. My boss recently returned from a cross country drive to California to attend the wedding of a old Army buddy. He said when he stopped in Williams, Arizona, - "Gateway to the Grand Canyon" - he dined at "Pancho McGillicuddy's Southwest Bar and Grill". I looked it up, and it's for real.

Considering the story I'm working on - "Dispatches from The Troubles" - that's hilarious. I will have to set a scene in a similarly-named bar.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Latests on dollars and dispatches

I'm underway on "Dispatches from The Troubles", almost 3,000 words. This story is a little innovative, it is exactly what it says, a compilation of news stories written about the Irish "Troubles", although an alternate history version where these disruptions happen in South Texas instead of Northern Ireland (look up the founding of San Patricio, Texas, to get an idea where this story takes off from).

Despite being a life-long journalist, I've never written a speculative fiction story that featured actual "news clips", although I segued into a number of television transcripts which are used in my novel "Dance with me, Henry".

A random thot: Both the first story I ever had published, "Silvern' in Revolution SF in June 2003, and my latest, "The Silver Dollar Saucer", which is on deck at Ray Gun Revival, use that particular coin as a maguffin. You'd think I am fixated.

BTW, I do own a 1935 Peace Dollar like the one above.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

20th anniversary

It was Oct. 12, 1988, when Rev. Ian Paisley of Northern Ireland heckled the Pope during a visit to the European Parliament

I remember when this happened, and I find it interesting that I am currently writing a high alternate history novella which manages to transpose "The Troubles' of Northern Ireland from Hibernia to North America (The 'Nueces Strip' to be exact, here in Texas), and Paisley is one of the characters.

Any in case, I am looking forward to "Dispatches from The Troubles". It's kind of a spin-off from "Dance with me, Henry", insofar as I had the character of Joseph Kennedy, Jr. in the book make some pointed comments about Irish subjugation, and it's very much in keeping with the high AH style - which is why someone like Paisley will make an appearance.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What if Americans became economic refugees?

Here's a tip of the hat to Capt. Xerox on the Website at tne End of the Universe, who brought this to our attention, to wit:

"People from poor countries come to the United States and other Western nations in order to live more comfortable lives, but what would happen if America became one of those poor countries? Would Americans abandon their homeland to become economic refugees? HBO is developing a TV series that imagines that what-if scenario and given the headlines in the financial papers these days, it seems eerily plausible."

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Brilliant? Twice? Me?

You may have noticed the adjective "brillant" was used in the evaluation of "The Silver Dollar Saucer" by the slushgods of Ray Gun Revival. This was the second time in a week I caught that word being used of me, which is pretty startling, I must say. Just recently I saw that the cyberpunk magazine Neometropolis has added a link to this blog on its web site. Ed Morris and I had a collaboration published there in Dec. 2006, "Eva". In introducing my link, editor John Jacobs said I'm "Another brilliant mind in the sci-fi community and Neometropolis veteran."
Huh? Me? Shee-yit. I'm just an old-fashioned pulp writer. Still, it's always nice to get ego-boos...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Praise for "The Silver Dollar Saucer"

The editors at Ray Gun Revival say its OK for me to quote their assessment of "The Silver Dollar Saucer". I am fascinated at their reaction because - after bouncing around a number of places, with so many other editors missing it all and being distracted by minor issues - suddenly the story finds someone who "gets it".

Here's what they said:


"This is very funny and imaginative. I even want to say brilliant. I really like the mixture of space opera and western dudes. I loved the way the author kept the main characters 'in character,' like talking about what kind of coal runs a spaceship, and not really knowing about the lack of gravity in space. (A personal quibble: I'd have preferred the story without the couple of profanities. But I suppose that could be called staying in character, too.)

"This is a great story. The author is inventive, clever, and managed to keep me guessing.


For his part, Ray Gun Revival "Overlord" Johne Cook said "It was a perfect fit for our publication!"

Ahh, so here's an appropriate tune, then. Cue the fuzz box...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Another sale

I got word via email last night that Ray Gun Revival has agreed to buy my short story "The Silver Dollar Saucer". It will be published on-line in its pdf format. Ray Gun Revival publishes fiction in the tradition of the classic pulps, and I had pegged them a month or so ago as a possible venue for the story.

"Silver Dollar Saucer" is one of my older unpublished stories - it's been kicking around about three and a half years - but I'm not surprised it took a while to find it a home. It's an uncommon combination of a western, steampunk and space opera. It has gotten good comments over the years - and was even approved to be offered as an Amazon Short (the deal fell through because Amazon only sells shorts for authors who have books on Amazon, and I didn't qualify) - but it didn't fit well with anybody. For an imaginative genre, s-f publications can be very hidebound in only enjoying fiction within their individual narrowly defined boundaries. I don't think that way. For example, when I was publishing fiction on Sentinel S-F, I specifically said I didn't want any Lovecraftian crapola, and then David Marshall sent me a short called "The Scrawl of Cthulhu". I thought it was funny, and I published it.

In addition to straddling a few genres, "The Silver Dollar Saucer" starts and ends (in a way) in Texas, another strike against it. It also has some very funny moments and wise-cracking. I don't know how many times I've gotten rejections saying my stories were fun. I got one just this week. I guess s-f isn't supposed to be fun. So I knew the story would be a hard sell.

I'm very satisfied it found a home, and I have asked Ray Gun Revival for permission to publish the editor's comments upon acceptance. Talk about blowing my own horn!

This will be my 39th publication since June 2003.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Regrets to Fencon

Fencon is this weekend in Dallas, and this will be the first I've ever missed entirely. I made it at least one day of the past four. I think I attended on Sunday for the first one, and last year I was there Saturday night and Sunday.

Unfortunately, work, time and health problems made me decide to skip this year. I've been having diabetes-related problems with my feet, and I have a work-related deadline on Monday. I have to do some writing Sunday at home and I simply don't have the stamina to run to Dallas and also do the stuff I need at home.

I made it to ConDFW, Armadillocon and the Nebulas this year, so I feel I made the rounds. I would have enjoyed the con, but you have to be realistic about these things.

Last year I pitched the Fencon folks on inviting Howard Waldrop, and not only did they, they made him Toastmaster. Now, ironically, neither of us will make it. Howard is still recovering in the VA hospital in Temple; I spoke to him Thursday, and he said the earliest they might release him is Thursday of this coming week.

I wrote his bio for the souvenir booklet, and now we're both no-shows. Ah, well.

Whatever happened to that old Sunbelt?

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