Saturday, February 28, 2009

More friends at ConDFW

P.N. Elrod and I weren't on any panels together, but we had a nice visit during her time at the signing table. She apparently thinks my (true) story about the time my Italian mother and my German Shepherd got into an argument in the kitchen (neither one speaking English) is the funniest gag in the world (I originally recounted the anecdote during FenCon in 2007).
On the other hand, Bill Crider claims a joke I told in the 'DilloCon suite is the worst joke in the world. They're probably both right.
I was happy to be on the panel about Selling Yourself for Fun and Profit with Lee Martindale Friday. We also both helped with the Buzz Blaster radio play Saturday night. Lee is a real pro and one of those people whose opinions I've come to value, because she is scrupulously honest and doesn't beat around the bush.
The Buzz Blaster radio play, put together by David Gray and Mary Gearheart-Gray, was lots of fun.
One last comment about ConDFW -looks like somebody went to sleep and allowed their domain name to lapse. is now taken up by a placeholder. I went to fact check while preparing this post.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Night Videos

Well, with a tip of the Hatlo Hat to Jayme Blaschke (who does this all the time on his blog), here's a Friday Night Video. I was researching Steampunk, segued into Goth, and stumbled across this tune on YouTube. I actually like it a lot:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

More from ConDFW

I got the impression that moving the con this year (for the first time from its original location) produced the highest attendance ever. Dan Robb confirmed this Saturday night, if I recall the conversation correctly. Leaving the Dallas North Radisson leaves me feeling like the protagonist in "They're Tearing Down Tim Reilly's Bar"* - since that is where I attended my first con, six years ago. But it sure seems to have worked for the con.

In addition to the aforementioned people, I visited a little with Ed Dravecky from Fencon and Kurt Baty from Armadillocon. It was good to see my friend Keith West again, although we didn't have enough time together.

In was surprised to learn while at the Babbage Patch Kids confab Saturday night that absinthe is legal in the U.S. I didn't know it had been taken off the list of prohibited imports. That party had some rousing entertainment by Queen Anne's Lace, who made up in panache what they lacked in rehearsal. Everyone had a good time. In fact, all the suites Saturday night seemed to do well. Tom Knowles and his Lone Star Publishing Party had a very good turnout. I also stopped in the ArmadilloCon suite, but they were having a jelly bean tasting party - which really didn't do much for me and my diabetes. I wonder if it was meant as a tribute to Ronnie Reagan (that's sarcasm, there)

I spent a little time that night also at the suite for SoonerCon. I look forward to attending in June.

*Broadcast on Night Gallery in 1971. Rod Serling said it was one of the two televison programs he would mst want to be remembered for (the other was "Requiem for a Heavyweight")

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Report from ConDFW

I left Mount Pleasant about 2:40 p.m. Friday and made excellent time to Dallas. I was there by 4:30. The weather was clear and dry, and - thankfully - although I was rolling into Dallas at rush hour, everyone was heading in the opposite direction. I found the hotel very easily and checked in. I ran into Bill Ledbetter, Adrian Simmons, and Brad and Sue Sinor right outside the con suite (that was fast) and after some conversation, went off to my 5 p.m. panel, "Selling Yourself for Fun and Profit"

Tom Knowles was the moderator. I was joined by Darlene D. Bolesny and Lee Martindale. Glenn Yeffeth was listed as a panelist but wasn't there and I never saw him at the con.

Since I've been going to cons for five years now, I'm actually getting to know people. I've been on panels with Tom and Lee before. We gave all sorts of advice and told anecdotes. The attendance was good, and everyone seemed to enjoy the discussion and find it useful.

My only other assignment for Friday was the "Talking During the Movies". The first flick, "Frankenstein Conquers the World", was a treasure trove of stupidity and great fun. I think we all - commentators and audience (and there was considerable overlap) had a grand old time.

The second movie, "1990 Bronx Warriors", was so weak, I really had a hard time even finding things to mock. It was so stupid and so insipid that after a while I just sat there with my jaw dropped. The other people had to do most of the talking. The only reason I stayed to the end was to reassure myself that the cheap-ass Italian exploitation film didn't have anyone named Antonelli in the credits. I would have changed my name if it did.

I moderated Saturday's first panel, "Publishing 101: Publishing Short Stories" with Michelle Muenzler, K. Hutson Price, and Bill Crider. Bill's another author I've been on panels with. We had a good range of experiences and advice. Of all the panels I was on at the panel - while all were well-attended and received - I think this was the one most appreciated by the audience.

I was also the moderator for "Cliches of Doom" with Rachel Caine and Rhonda Eudaly - again, folks I have been on panels with before. The small size (I've never seen a panel that started with only three panelists) kept down the number of stories, but on the other hand, the three of us - man for man (if you pardon the expression) were probably the most entertaining. Three real wise-guys.

That afternoon the newly-organized steampunk group in Dallas, The Babbage Patch Kids, held a panel at 2 p.m. It was very-well attended. They also held a tea in the con suite, and finally a party - again in the con suite - that night at 9 p.m. Everything was well received. I wish them a lot of luck, they seem to be adding a fun something to the local s-f and fantasy mix.

My last thing for the evening was the Buzz Blaster Radio Play. After I shot off my breathless Don Corleone imitation, I was shanghaied into playing the villain. Unfortunately, the play ran over and I lost track of time, and I missed the Miss Starburst Pageant, which I had volunteered to MC. I felt really bad about that.

During the weekend I stayed at my mother-in-law's, and since I didn't have any panels - just a reading, which I'm sure would have been poorly attended - I decided to stay sleep in until 10:30 a.m. and then after visiting with my mother-in-law some more, I went to Cedar Hill, where I lived for many tears, and grabbed a chicken fried steak with an old friend. I later visited some old friends at their home, and then hot the road back to East Texas. I was back home in Mount Pleasant by 9 p.m.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sorry for the delay...

...but I got back home from ConDFW late last night, and I haven't had a chance to post the latest chapter from "Dance with me, Henry" yet. I will do it tonight.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Off to ConDFW

I'll be driving into Dallas tomorrow to attend ConDFW. I probably won't be posting again until I get back Sunday.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More plugs for ConDFW

A literary-focused science fiction convention.
Happening February 20-22, 2009. (Our 8th Year!)
Brought to you by the Texas Speculative Fiction Association (TSFA).
Run by a team of volunteers with varied years of experience.
The TSFA is:

A Texas-based, Federally-recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization informally organized in 2001.
Dedicated to promoting the advancement of education with emphasis on sci-fi/fantasy/horror literature, publishing and writing, and science.
The organization behind ConDFW, our annual event where we bring in ‘top men’ in the fields of science fiction, horror & fantasy literature, hard science, art, and more.
Open to all; membership dues are paid annually.

Q: What is ConDFW?

A: ConDFW is a literary science fiction and fantasy convention featuring writing/publishing based programming, science programming, an excellent collection of guests, art show, a charity book swap and auction, a short story contest, and a slew of non-traditional activities such as the Sci-Fi Spelling Bee. ConDFW is brought to you by the Texas Speculative Fiction Association, a 501 (c)(3) organization.

Q: How long have you been around?

A: The first ConDFW was held in 2002 with John Steakley as our guest of honor, on an incredibly slim budget. We have tried to keep the prices at ConDFW low for our members while still bringing you a unique set of guests, entertainers, and activities.

Q: So who’s coming to ConDFW 2009?

A: For 2009, we are both pleased and quite stunned ourselves to bring you TWO Author Guests of Honor: Jim Butcher and David Weber! Great buckets of Thanks to both these gentlemen for accepting our invitations. We also include somewhere in the neighborhood of 50+ regional panelists including a variety of authors, artists, small press people, etc.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Blink on Locus

It was nice to see that Locus on-line posted a blink Wednesday to the latest issue of Ray Gun Revival. Hope it drives more traffic to the site.

Getting ready to go to ConDFW next weekend. My car died a couple of days ago in the driveway, but it's probably a blessing in disguise. Since it's in the shop, it will be checked to make sure it's up to the drive. I live 125 miles from Dallas, so its more than a quick hop.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Run of the mill

Finished up the first draft of "Blue Tango" and sent it to Brad Sinor last night. Came in at about 6,400 words. This will be our first collaboration. Brad (and Sue) will surely sprinkle it with fairy dust and come back with an award-winner.

A couple of days ago SFSignal posted a link to a web site called Dark Roasted, which is an s-f resource. They came up with a spread sheet that lists 2,000 s-f writers currently active in the field - pretty much everyone who has published since 1990. A lot of hard work, but an excellent recource. I took a moment to look it up. I have to admit I was surprised to find my own name - I'm of such little note in the field I hardly show up any anybody's list - but I guess getting a story published in Asimov's gets me there.

Monday, February 09, 2009

More about ConDFW

Here is a line-up of guests:

Guests of Honor
David Weber
Janimation, Inc.
Jim Butcher
Adrian Simmons
Aelle Ables
Amy Sisson
Angeline Hawkes
Bill Crider
Brad W. Foster
Bradley H. Sinor
C. Dean Andersson
Carole Nelson Douglas
Chris Donahue
Christopher Fulbright
Darlene D. Bolesny
David Cherry
David L. Gray
Dusty Rainbolt
Frances May
Gabrielle Faust
Gloria Oliver
J M McDermott
Joy Marie Ledet
Julia S. Mandala
K. Hutson Price
Kerry Tolan
Lee Martindale
Linda Donahue
Lou Antonelli
Martha Wells
Mel White
Melanie Fletcher
Michael Finn
Michelle Muenzler
Nina Romberg (a.k.a. Jane Archer)
P.N. Elrod
Patrice Sarath
Paul Abell
Paul Black
Priscilla Spencer
R. Cat Conrad
Rachel Caine
Rhonda Eudaly
Richard D. Weber
Rie Sheridan Rose
Scott R Padget
Selina Rosen
Shanna Swendson
Shannon K. Butcher
Steven Brust
Sue Sinor
Taylor Anderson
Teddy Harvia
Teresa Patterson
Thomas M. Wagner
Thomas W. Knowles
William Ledbetter

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Looks to be a great time

While I'm on the subject, here's some publicity about ConDFW:

A Science Fiction and Fantasy Literary Event
February 20-22, 2009
Crowne Plaza Suites—Dallas @ 635 & 75

2009 Author Guests of Honor:
Jim Butcher David Weber

The normal features:
 Art Show
 Dealer’s Room
 Con Suite
 Panel Discussions
 Freebie Tables

And the abnormalities:
Annual Sci-Fi Spelling Bee 
Pro Artist Drawing Challenge 
Charity Book Swap 
Hard Science Panels 
Short Story Contest 
Beauty Pageant...of Sorts… 
“Late Night Double Feature” 
Sci-Fi Pictionary 
E-mail us:

Friday, February 06, 2009

My panels at ConDFW

I will be at ConDFW Feb. 20-22. They've come out with their panel listings. Here are the panels I will be on (with the room).

Friday –

5 pm - Selling Yourself for Fun and Profit (Warwick)
Hosted by: Thomas Knowles (M), Lou Antonelli, Glenn Yeffeth
What can you do to sell your own writing not just to publishers but to the public? Internet, conventions, book signings, flyers – there are a bewildering array of choices. Our experts tell of their own experiences, and what does and does not work.

9 pm – Talking During the Movies (Warwick)
Hosted by Dusty Rainbolt, Lou Antonelli, Michael Finn, and assorted others…
Last year we had a blast tearing apart “Hercules in New York.” With our guests filling in commentary, a good time was had by all. This year’s feature is sure to leave you in stitches as well…

Saturday –

10 am – Publishing 101: Publishing Short Stories (Churchill)
Hosted by Lou Antonelli (M), Michelle Muenzler, K. Hutson Price, and Bill Crider
Putting together a gem is always a pleasure, but getting it out into the cold, cruel world is the next big step. Our experts talk about how to get your story read, who to go to, and what to say.

12 pm РClich̩s of Doom! (Manchester)
Hosted by Lou Antonelli (M), Rachel Caine, Rhonda Eudaly
Ever groan while reading a story? Does seeing the hero ride into the sunset make your eyes roll? The ever-present cliché will pop up when you least expect it, and ruin all the dramatic potential your story has. Our experts go over some popular ones…and show you how to avoid them.

8 pm – Your Celestial Starburst Pageant 2009 (Warwick)
Hosted by: Selina Rosen, Richard D. Weber, Lou Antonelli (M), and Teresa Patterson.
Dress up as your favorite character, or create your own masterpiece! Hosted by Costumers Anonymous of North Texas.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Latest sale

Christopher Fletcher just started a new 'zine, available on the web and as a .pdf, called M-Brane. I saw a blink about it last Friday on Locus On-Line, and after reading the guidelines, I realized I had a story that might work, and emailed it off over the weekend.

I guessed right. Chris liked the story and sent me the acceptance today. I've already returned the contract. "Business as Usual" is slated for Issue No. 3, scheduled for April 15.

The first issue of M-Brane went live Feb. 1st. He seems to have attracted some good talent. A random selection of authors in these first three issues includes Cat Rambo,
Glenn Lewis Gillette, and Lawrence Dagstine.

This is the fifth sale in four months. Ray Gun Revival bought "The Silver Dollar Saucer" on Oct. 5. Since then Planetary Stories bought "Acroscaphe", Apehelion bought "Video Killed the Radio Star", and Science Fiction Trails bought "Professor Malakoff's Amazing Ethereal Telegraph".

"Dollar", "Acroscaphe" and "Video" have all been published.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Latest publication

Ray Gun Revival has come out with Issue No. 50, dated January 2009, and the lead story is "The Silver Dollar Saucer".

Here is how they blurb it in the issue: "Two Texas outlaws on the run after a stagecoach robbery gone bad get more than they bargained for and find themselves in the most unlikely of hideouts from the law".

Following "Acroscaphe" in Planetary Stories and "Video Killed the Radio Star" in Apehelion, that's three stories in two months.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Farewell to the Spinracks

Last October I had the opportunity to interview Tom Doherty for my newspaper, and I wrote a story about the web site for the Sunday Entertainment page of my newspaper.

The interview was wide-ranging enough that I've been able to extract a second story, which I've offered to the SFWA Bulletin. In that story, I focused more on the particulars of the publishing business.

I learned a lot from Doherty about the recent history of the publishing business - all the more interesting to me since I never really paid any attention to it. I only started to write fiction in 2002.

One thing that stuck with me is how much more centralized book distribution has become - to the detriment of diversity and distribution. Doherty said those old "spin racks" which we used to see in retail stores and pharmacies were often a point of entry for people to the s-f and fantasy genres.

They've almost completely disappeared - the only place I see them anymore are Family Dollar and Dollar General Stores.

I was thinking of that this weekend as I pulled some books out of a box in storage and I found my mass market paperback copy of Diane Wynne-Jones "Tough Guide to Fantasyland".

I bought this book out of a spin rack at the ONLY grocery store in Ovilla, Texas, ten years ago. My newspaper had a small edition just for the city (which back then had barely 3,000 people) and I brought the papers to the store myself.

I happened to see the book in the rack and bought it. By the way, if you've never read it, it's VERY funny, tongue and cheek.

I see from the printing history that the first paperback edition was dated Dec. 1998, so it must be almost exactly ten years since I bought it. It shows that even ten years ago, these racks were still around.

Today, they're almost completely extinct.

The Day the Music Died

Technically, Buddy Holly died Feb. 3, 1959, because the plane crashed after midnight, but it was the night of Feb. 2, and so today really marks the 50th anniversary of his death.

Buddy Holly is such a seminal figure in American pop culture that many, many authors over the years have figuratively stood at his grave and paid him homage. I think he's probably the youngest person ever to leave such a mark - he was only 22 years old when he died.

Here is Texas, it's easy to find people who knew him and had some connection to him. Unlike Elvis, he never grew old, bloated and distant.

Two years ago I stumbled across a connection when in the course of my newspaper job I did one of those nondescript stories we so often have to do, a feature story on a local business. In this case, it was a monument company in Avery, Texas.

A family-run business, it's currently run by the daughter-in-law of the founder, now deceased. He was a Lubbock native and got his start in the business working at a monument company there in the 1950s.

He was the best monument carver there at the time, and in 1959 he got a request unusual for the time. A family wanted art engraved on the stone - a guitar and some bars of music.

Today we see such touches all the time, but in 1959 it was very uncommon. But there was no question Buddy Holly would get the monument the family wanted. He engraved a picture of Buddy's old acoustic guitar, the one with his hand-tooled leather case (which I once saw on display 20 years ago at the Hard Rock Cafe in Dallas) along with a few bars of the first song he ever wrote.

Buddy's name in accurately spelled "Holley" on the stone; "Holly" was officially his stage name, due to a typo on a contract when he was starting out. The difference has led to the urban myth that his name is misspelled on his grave.

The manager of the Avery monument company noted that the first grave stone was stolen very quickly; her father-in-law duplicated the design for the second, which was anchored on a cement block, and it has been there ever since.

Like so many Texas authors, I have also stood at Buddy Holly's grave; he was an off-stage presence in "The Witch of Waxahachie" published in Jim Baen's Universe last April. I extrapolated that, like Ronald Reagan, he might have gone into politics after his entertainment career petered out (he was a very personable guy) and given in the story that Texas remained an independent republic, I had him there as the president. That little of piece of business led to a drawing of a 60-ish President Holley being used as one of the story's illustrations. Terry Wisenant did the artwork for the story, and I've used it with this posting.

The alternate history possibilities of Buddy Holly are endless, and I'm sure I will have opportunities in the future to revisit alternate versions of Buddy Holly's life.

In conclusion, you may know that my real job is as a newspaper editor, and I always write a personal column on Mondays to start the week off. Here is my column for today:


It was a Monday, just like today – Feb. 2, 1959 – and the only laundromat in Clear Lake, Iowa, was closed on Mondays. That was a problem for a 22-year old young man from Lubbock, born Charles Hardin Holley, who was set to play with his band at the Surf Ballroom that night.
Everyone had called him “Buddy” ever since he was a kid – he was always friendly and cheerful.
Together with friends at Lubbock High School – Jerry Allison, Sonny Curtis, Larry Welborn and Niki Sullivan – he had played the new “rock and roll” music, with a particular twang that was called rockabilly. They had picked up some local gigs, and in 1956 the group signed a record deal with Coral Records. Someone spelled his name wrong on the contract, spelled it like the red-berried plant, dropping the “e”, and he stuck with the spelling.
In 1957 the band – which went by “Buddy Holly and the Crickets” - broke into the big time with song originally written with a calypso beat, named “Cindy Lou” for a niece of Buddy’s. Allison asked the name be changed to “Peggy Sue” to sweeten up his girlfriend by the same name – they were not speaking to each other at the time, as teenagers will do – but the song still didn’t click. During a break, while Holly pondered what needed to be tweaked, Allison started doing a drumming exercise, called paradiddles. Holly perked up, and asked Allison if he could play that beat for the whole song. That’s how it all began, in July 1957.
By the time he was walking around in Clear Lake, Iowa, that winter’s day exactly 50 years ago, Holly and the Crickets had an incredible string of hits: “That’ll be the Day”, “Oh, Boy”, “True Love Ways”, “Not Fade Away”, “Rave On”, “Think It Over”, “It Doesn’t Matter Any More” are some of the best-known ones.
Holly had become interested in the New York record scene. What was left of the Crickets – Allison and Mauldin – wanted to go back to Lubbock, and so they had split a few months earlier. The tour he was on, dubbed the Winter Dance Party, was a logistical nightmare, with the freezing bus zigging and zagging and backtracking across the Mid-west. By the time they were in Clear Lake, Buddy was exhausted and out of clean underwear.
He realized that the next day they would be playing in Moorhead, Minnesota, and the time it would take to get there on the bus would mean he would get neither a good night’s sleep nor any laundry done – since the laundromat in Clear Lake was closed on Mondays.
So he arranged a private plane to fly himself to the next gig, and it took off just after midnight that night. The pilot, who wasn’t rated to fly at night, ploughed the aircraft into the ground at 170 mph fives miles north of the airport. Holly and two performers on the tour - Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper – died in the crash.
It’s been 50 years. God only knows how the world would have been different,

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...