Sunday, May 31, 2009

Next publication

Got word from the folks at Alienskin that their next issue is coming out late on June 5. It will be featuring my flash, "Airy Chick".

Got started on another short story, "Mak Siccar" wherein I tackle the Titanic and alternate history.

Getting ready for Soonercon next weekend.

Friday, May 29, 2009


I write s-f and fantasy for fun - it's not my real job - and so I don't make it into drudge work. I only sit down and write when I feel motivated or inspired. I don't need practice writing, with my "real" job being what it is.

I've had a story idea bouncing around in my brain for a few years, about the mysterious appearance of an otherworldly airship at a small East Texas airport during a vicious thunderstorm. For some reason, everything finally clicked in my sub-conscious and last night I sat down to write the story.

I finished a 2,700-word first draft by the time I went to bed. Tonight I fleshed it out a bit to 3,200 words, and read it to Patricia. She also liked it. It's a short, quick alternate history/fantasy read, and it will probably be ready to head for the slush piled on Monday.

Also, the story - "Great White Ship" - will probably be a good story to read at Soonercon.

Here's hoping.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Oww, my head

As I believe I mentioned sometime earlier, a hailstorm April 9 did in our roof. The work crew arrived on Tuesday and have been pounding ever since. Patricia did not get a call to sub yesterday and the noise nearly drove her bonkers.

Someone left a door open yesterday and the girls made a dash for it. Patricia had to work hard to get them back inside. Today she did get to work at the high school. I knocked off after lunch and was home by 1:30, to the girls have some company. I feel better being here. So do they.

Watched "The Goode Family" last night. I liked it, Patricia thought it was stupid. Well, that's why we have two DirecTV receivers at the house.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A chuckle of recognition

You may recall that the Fox Network announced last October they will not be renewing the long-running series “King of the Hill”, which will close out its 13th season next year.
“King of the Hill” is the second-longest running animated series in history – after “The Simpsons” – and in addition to being very popular, garnered much critical acclaim.
Of course, it has always been popular here in Texas, since it’s set in Texas. Neither of the two men behind the series – Mike Judge and Greg Daniels – are native Texans, but Judge lived many years in the Dallas area and obviously drew upon people and places he knew.
The family of Hank and Peggy Hill, their son Bobby and the niece who lived with them, LuAnn Platter – who came to stay with them after her mother went to prison for stabbing her boyfriend – just rang true, along with their neighbors, Wayne Gribble the conspiracy theorist, Bill Dauterive – who’s suffered from low self-esteem ever since his wife left him – and Jeff Boomhauer, always nearly unintelligible since he both mumbles and drawls ( I didn’t know there were people who did that, until I came to East Texas).
The humor on the show was accurate and gentle-natured; the chuckles came naturally. We laughed at the things we recognized. Sometimes I didn’t get some of the humor, not being a native Texan. Other times I was uncomfortable, as the show reminded me that, indeed, I’m not a native Texan. But it was always fun.
Mike Judge now lives in Austin, and I guess when he wanted to come up with another project to follow “King of the Hill”, he drew upon the people and places he now sees every day in that bastion of political correctness. The result – another project with Greg Daniels – was sold to ABC, and it debuts Wednesday night. “The Goode Family” is a gentle satire on eco-freaks and political liberals who try so hard to do good – hence the name.
The father of the family, Gerald Goode, “comes from a long line of over-educated liberals,” in Judge’s own words. Wife Helen is a liberal because her dad is such a right-wing curmudgeon. They have a daughter, Bliss, who is at that awkward stage of being a teenager who just wants to fit in, and is constantly chagrinned by her parents’ behavior.
Being such good politically correct liberals, years ago Gerald and Helen Goode decided to adopt a baby from Africa, but were flustered when the baby arrived from SOUTH Africa. That’s how you get a blond-headed white teenager named Ubuntu.
The family is vegan – meaning not only will they not eat meat, they won’t eat anything that comes from an animal (hence, no eggs, no milk, etc). Their dog, Che, is one of the funniest characters in the show as he frantically tries to catch squirrels and neighborhood pets to get some meat!
I don’t know if liberals will chuckle at themselves as much as more conservative, traditional people did when they watched “King of the Hill”. I hope so, it would do them some good. As the old saying goes, if you can’t laugh at yourself sometimes, other people will do it for you.
(Originally published in the Mount Pleasant (Tx.) Daily Tribune, Monday, May 25, 2009.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"Fantastic Texas" blog

As a promotional tool for the upcoming publication of my "Fantastic Texas" collection, I've created a separate blog and posted entries blurbing the individual stories. It can be found at

Sunday, May 24, 2009

New from Fantastic Books

Warren Lapine, on his livejournal blog, yesterday announced the publication of two books by James Gunn, a collection - "Human Voices" and the novel, "This Fortress World".

Here is the rundown from the Barnes and Noble web site, from the links in Warren's blog:


In Human Voices you will find stories covering the past three decades of James Gunn's career: imaginative, entertaining speculations revealing insight-and foresight-into human nature now and in the future, which are the unmistakable hallmarks of his best fiction.

James Gunn's work is always polished, ironic, and deeply concerned about humankind. Long before I knew him, his stories and novels were a pleasure to read, and this has never changed. -George Zebrowski, Award Winning author of Macrolife and Brute Orbits

These are consistently and admirably intelligent, austerely but effectively written stories . . . . - Roland Green, Booklist

SFWA Grand Master James Gunn's This Fortress World takes place in the far future of our galaxy, when countless civilizations have risen and fallen, leaving only their marvelous scientific achievements as legacy to those worlds which have now fallen into a new Dark Age. On the planet Brancusi, William Dane, an acolyte monk in the all-powerful Church, comes into possession of a crystal pebble dropped in the offering plate, a stolen treasure believed to hold untold secrets of mankind's past. There are powerful men who will stop at nothing, including murder, to recover this ancient artifact, and Dane must flee for his life to protect the knowledge the crystal holds.

Once in the outside world to which he is a stranger, and no longer in the comforting isolation of the Cathedral where he has spent his entire life, Dane faces not only internal challenges to his deepest held beliefs, but those external and involving the long-term destiny of mankind-if only he can survive. Deceived, imprisoned, tortured, and now a murderer himself, Dane must not only break down the walls that have kept him alone in the world, but those imposed upon the people through an oppressive centralized government, a government putting its own desires above those of its people.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Contract send-off

It took about a week, but I got back the contract today for "Fantastic Texas" from the agent who agreed to vet it. She had some good comments, which I have incorporated into the contract, and I'm dropping the contract in the mail to Wilder Publications in the morning.

It's fairly straightforward and simple and fit on one page in 11.5 Times Roman type.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A little good news

Got a check in the mail yesterday from the SFWA; the Bulletin is using my interview with Tom Doherty in the next issue, No. 183, and I got paid. I wish this would count as a paid fiction sale, because then I think I would qualify as a full member.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Today is Spring

Texas has many natural advantages; weather is not one of them. I guess being sub-tropical causes its weather to trend towards extremes. Spring and fall are barely noticeable. You essentially swing from too hot to too cold and back again. The transitions are accompanied to tornadoes and hailstorms.

Today it's 70 degrees, fahrenheit: The perfect spring temperature. So I guess today is spring. I doubt we'll see this again this year. You only get one day of spring in Texas. Tomorrow it will probably be 99 degrees.

Looking forward to SoonerCon in three weeks. A quick romp through Mapquest revealed that Oklahoma City is 36 miles closer to me than Austin (280 vs. 316). ArmadilloCon in August will be my next convention. Fencon in Dallas is only 120 miles away. Tulsa is only 230 miles, which is why I liked going to Conestoga.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Contract in hand

I've received the contract for "Fantastic Texas" from Ian Randall Strock and it's getting the once over. This is the first contract I've ever had for a book, obviously.

Strock notes he will be off on vacation for a week. Interesting - back in 2004, Gardner Dozois took a vacation right after accepting "A Rocket for the Republic".

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Talking to the Rotary

My boss at the newspaper belongs to the local Rotary Club (I belong to the Optimist Club) and Tuesday was his day to provide the luncheon meeting's program. He asked me a few months ago if I'd be the guest.

He introduced me by saying that when he interviewed me for the job, and we chatted about my hobbies, I was certainly the first editor he ever knew who wrote science fiction.

Having served on dozens of con panels by now, I gave what I feel was a quick but useful overview of the genre, focusing on Texas's role. I brought a few books, and reading some of the blurbs was very entertaining for the crowd.

My texts were the three "Republic of Texas" books by Daniel daCruz (The Ayes of Texas, Texas on the Rocks, and Texas Triumphant), "The Texas Israeli War: 1999", "For Texas and Zed" and "A Spectre is Haunting Texas".

I also mentioned "A Canticle for Liebowitz", pointing out the role Texarkana plays in the story, and that next year is the 50th anniversary of its release.

The talk was well received, and I even had a few people visit with me afterwards.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Boy, am I sore

Went to the cabin near the lake Monday. It's about 120-130 miles from Mount Pleasant. I can get to Dallas in about the same distance and less time (there's no direct route between here and there).

Really didn't use the chain saw a lot, but it was crucial in hacking through some undergrowth. I accomplished my main goal, which was to clear the forest around the cabin so you can walk around it. This was harder than it sounded. When the two-story structure was moved there, the lot was cleared (which makes no sense to me - why have a cabin in the woods and then chop down the woods? Then again, if the original owners had a brain, they would have paid their taxes and we wouldn't have bought the property at a tax auction).

I want the forest to come back, and on one side, closest to where some pine trees were left standing near the property line, there are some nice trees shooting up. They're taller now than the cabin. They are slowly squeezing out the scrub, which is what I want. Perhaps somewhere down the road I'll think about trimming out the pines, but for now I love them.

As for the cabin itself, and had to re-secure a window that had blown open, but otherwise it was intact. It's hard to work there, there's no utilities - what you call a "hunter's cabin". I suggested to Patricia if we ever install anything, electricity would be the first thing; that way we could have a/c and, more importantly, a refrigerator for food and water.

There's a telephone pole across the street, so I don't think it would be a big deal. Anyway, using the chain saw and pruning shears left me real sore, but I'm on the mend.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mudder's Day

After leaving the Dallas environs and moving to East Texas in 2002, I became aware of the fact that it's a little wetter out here. Fact is, for the past few years we have had what I think of a "Monsoon Season".

Starting in March, and going into May, we have these spates of thunderstorms - often day after day - that leaves everything soaked. This is what the meteorologists call the "Storm Season" - when they are most concerned about tornadoes.

Last Saturday was the worst; there were three waves of thunderstorms that rolled through Mount Pleasant. The last - which struck about midnight - flooded our garage.

The wife and I spent all day cleaning the house and garage. The house has been taking a beating because of all the mud, and there's a secondary problem: It's so muddy and unpleasant outside, the dogs don't want to stay in the yard. They've pounded and torn at the patio French Doors to where there is serious damage; one pane is completely busted out. Also, the pounding - combined with the moisture and the swelling of the wood - caused the dead-bolt lock to freeze up. I had to unscrew and remove it to get the door open (there's a regular knob lock on the door). We have a man coming by Monday to look at the damage; hopefully we can plan some kind of repair. What I'm concerned about is that, now that the dogs have learned that they can breach the door, they will still keep at it, so I'm thinking we have have to modify the doors or even hang shutters to protect them.

Patricia used a spray bottle with bleach in the garage to kill the mildew that was springing up along the bottom of the walls. I swept the garage out. With the rains, the lawn was shooting up, and our lawn guy came by and mowed. While we had the garage door open he came in with the leaf blower and blew out all the dust and schmutz. Things are looking better.

Speaking of schmutz, we have a large upright Dirt Devil vaccuum cleaner, and I dumped three camisters' worth of crapola; that's the most dirt I've ever cleaned up in a single day.

This spate of storms also worries me about the undeveloped cabin we own in Henderson County. Tomorrow is a day off, so I plan to drive there and inspect it, see if it is secure and intact. The lot has become very overgrown, and I bit the bullet and shelled out a couple of hundred dollars to buy a small Husqvarna chain saw to clean the underbrush. I unpacked it and gave it a test this afternoon. I've never used a chain saw before, but I need to clean around the cabin and at this point that is the only thing that will do the job.

Oh, I did call my mother and wish her the best.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Upcoming article

Got an email from Mark Kreighbaum - the editor of the SFWA Bulletin - a few days ago. He said they want to use my interview with Tom Doherty in the Bulletin's June/July issue.

Last fall I had an interview with Doherty in conjunction with the web site. I wrote an article for the entertainment page of my newspaper. I had enough notes that I worked up a second story, focusing on Doherty's observations on the changes and future of the publishing industry.

Kreighbaum asked for my address so he could send a contract. I suppose this is a story I'll get paid for.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Thursday, May 07, 2009

"Tango" nears completion

With the work done on my end for the "Fantastic Texas" collection, I've gone back and started on new stories again. The collaboration with Brad Sinor, "Blue Tango", was completely sidetracked, but I got back to it, sent it back to Brad, and now it's back to me for final proofing.

Looking forward to SoonerCon, now in less than a month. Eric Flint had to drop out as GOH because of his heart by-pass operation. I sent him a get-well card last week.

Adrian Simmons has sent in the list of questions for the third annual "Ones to Watch" series. I'll have to work on those shortly.

OK, the video for today is one of the most different versions of "Blue Tango".

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Keeping in the spirit

In keepimg with the spirit of the upcoming "Fantastic Texas" collection, here's a video of a performance of "Planet Texas". The song was originally on an album by Rogers and actually charted as a single to #30, I believe, in 1990. The sound at some places seems weak, but hey, just sit back and enjoy:

Blown away

Ah dear, where do I start?

Saturday afternoon, after putting the paper to bed, the wife and I went to Texarkana to get some dinner. Mount Pleasant has many nice restaurants, but no Olive Garden. We wanted to try the restaurant's latest entree, Lasagna Rotellini. It was pretty good. I had the sausage version, while Patricia had the chicken variety.

While we were eating, it started to rain. It wasn't much, rather intermittent, and afterwards we went across the Mall to the Books a Million. After buying a few books and magazines, we were in the cafe when a really bad storm hit. I mean, it got very dark, the rain came down in buckets, and then the power failed.

When the front doors began to blow open, the employees herded us to the back of the store, fearful the windows were going to shatter. After maybe 45 minutes, things were calm enough that Patricia and I hit the road. We had planned to a few more stops while in the big city (Texarkana is about four times the size of Mount Pleasant), but I suggested we get back while the going was good.

We made it back fine. The girls had been outside when the same storm hit Mount Pleasant, so they were soaked, but I toweled them down and we all settled down for...

the second wave of storms. About 8 p.m. there was another torrential downpour. Our house is on a hill, but the water pooled up to the edge of the patio. Then the tornado sirens went off, and we huddled until the all clear in our "safe room", which happens to be my office. It has the least outside exposure, is relatively small, and also is lined with bookshelves.

Got through that fine, and then in a few hours went to bed until...

the worst of it all hit. about midnight. This time the storm was so bad the water finally went over and was flowing through the patio, taking leaves and twigs with it. We had never seen this before. Thankfully, the house's pad is slightly raised, so the water didn't make it into the house. But that isn't the case with the garage, and it became flooded. We got the girls from their kennels and they stayed with us in the bedroom until the storm passed and the water began to recede.

Strangest sight was a slug about six inches long - you would have thought it was a small snake - that came into the garage while the water was the highest. As soon as the water began to recede it went back to where it had come from. God knows where that is.

Went to the city park this morning and took photos of flood damage for the Monday paper, and then went to breakfast at I-Hop.

Sheesh, so much for Texas looking like a dessert!!!

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...