Monday, August 31, 2009

Half dozen off

Today was a day from the real job, and before I launch into new projects I decided to take some time and get some stories back into circulation. Went pretty good, sent off a half dozen by mail, email and submission forms. That means I have 14 stories in various slush piles now.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Still mending

I'm getting better after last week's physical problems, but not felt ambitious enough to get back to writing. Things do seem on the upswing, though, I;m feeling pretty good.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I've been off the net for a few days. Monday morning I woke up to find that I pinched a nerve in my elbow while I slept, and my entire lower left arm was numb for a few hours. What was worse is that I have carpal tunnel, and the combination of the pinched nerve in the arm and the carpal tunnel in my wrist completely deadened my left forefinger, to the degree that it curled up and I couldn't straighten it. This is a real problem if you only type with two fingers, like I do.

I got through the day at work, but I was miserable. I started taking anti-inflammatory medicine Monday night, and things began to improve. Tuesday I was almost back to normal, but the whole incident had aggravated my carpal tunnel. I spent last night watching TV with cold compresses on my left wrist.

Today I seem to have recovered. Just one thing after another.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Kind of in a slump since Armadillocon

I've had to deal with a backlog of chores after taking the time off, but I'm getting caught up, and I'm also organizing my notes for the next outburst of short fiction. There are times when I come off a writing hiatus and write three or four stories at a quick pace, maybe in a month.

This is the time of the year when my allergies are the worst. Two years ago, due to exhaustion and inattention, they exploded into an inner-ear infection that sent me to the emergency room while attending NASFIC. Last year, I kept better control pf things, but the fluid on the ear got to the point where a boil developed externally.

This year has been less severe, although by Monday there was so much pressure on my ears they felt like they were bleeding. There have been times in the past when I have so much drainage down my Eustachian Tube at night while I sleep that my wife can hear the dripping. This year hasn't been that bad; but I have to keep constantly after it, with Claritin, nose spray, and - for immediate relief - cough drops.

We've also had an especially wet summer, so that probably also helped keep the schmutz down.

Oh, when my ears get congested my hearing suffers, but I can still hear. Thankfully I never develop tinnitus. I'm hardly alone in having these allergies and effects in East Texas; in fact, the speaker at a luncheon meeting of a senior citizens' group here in Mount Pleasant talked about the subject a few months ago.

I didn't realize that some senior citizens who move to East Texas from other parts of the countries don't realize they get fluid on the ear from the allergens, and they assume they are just getting geriatric deafness.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Penny for Your Thoughts

People who know me may also know that I’m a coin collector, and I’ve developed a habit as a result of buying lots and rolls (and having excess coins) of offering “A Penny for Your Thoughts” when someone is especially helpful or insightful to me. In these cases, I always hand out Indian Head Cents. (Very rarely, when someone has been a real jackass, I’ll give them “My Two Cents’ Worth” and mail them a pair of old Lincoln Wheat Cents, but this is extremely uncommon.)

I handed out ten Indian Head Pennies at ArmadilloCon to a number of first-time recipients: Bill Ledbetter, Adrian Simmons, Tam Thompson, Scott Cup, Don Webb, Maureen McHugh, Joe Lansdale and James Hogan were all recipients. I tossed one in the fountain in the courtyard. I also gave one to the clerk in the gift shop. I caught up with Don Webb there, and when she saw the penny she was so fascinated I gave her one of her own.

These were all 1903 cents, btw, like the one shown in this post (not terribly good quality). Then again, I'm sure people don't expect me to hand out proof sets.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Visits at 'DilloCon

Like most people, I came away from Armadillocon bemoaning the briefness of many conversations. There's just so many people to see, you just don't have enough time.

One person I was happy to meet, for the first time, was John DeNardo, the fellow who runs the SF Signal web site. He was just up for Saturday, and we chatted for a while in the lobby. I told him that his web site is one of the three news web sites I visit every day (the others being SF Scope and Locus). I commended him for a job well done.

Doug Potter is another person I was happy to meet for the first time. He's an old friend of Howard's. I guess we've never been on any panels together because he is an artist. Really friendly; he came with us Saturday night when we ate dinner at Fuddruckers.

I met Bill Ledbetter and tickled the pink out of him when I told him I tuckerized him in my upcoming novelette, "Dispatches from the Troubles," which is going to be published by GUD next spring. Guillermo "Bill" Ledbetter is the head of the American Irish Republic state police.

Bill asked, "Ooh, do I get blown up?" Which was funny, because the character actually does get blowed up by a roadside bomb. Bill said, "I always wanted to get buried in a bucket!"

Saw Steve Utley for a while, and served on a panel with him. It was only the second time we've visited; I saw him for the first time at last year's DilloCon.

I attended Maureen McHugh's reading and talked with her a bit. Had nice visits with Adrian Simmons and Tam Thompson (I don't know whether I've seen Tam since a Turkey City Workshop in 2005). Visited with James Hogan after our panel Saturday night - another all-too-short exchange.

Talked to Elizabeth Moon in the con suite. Had another short chat with Scott Cup. Tim Miller was there; I'm looking forward to FenCon next month.

Chatted more extensively with the usual suspects - Howard, Joe Lansdale, Jayme Blaschke.

Brad Denton only was able to stop by on Sunday. I mentioned again how impressed I was that "Sergeant Chip" seems to be on the way of becoming a classic. I had telephoned him after the "Mind Meld" feature ran on SF Signal because two of us had cited "Chip" as a memorable story.

Chatting in the lobby with Denton and a cluster of people led to one of the funniest exchanges of the con. I told Brad I was always impressed how well-written the story was; it was obvious how much work went into the story. Brad confirmed that. I said that - with my background in journalism - I get bored with a story after three hours.

I turned to Howard and said, "Now Howard, here, he works on a story for 20 years."

Jayme Blaschke says, "Howard thinks about a story for 20 years."

We all laugh, and Howard says, "And then I start sharpening my quill," making the appropriate gesture. It was pretty funny.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Report from ArmadilloCon

The bus left Mount Pleasant at 7:40 p.m. Friday, and - after a change in Dallas - I got to Austin at 2:40 a.m. A short cab trip to the hotel ($4.25 - I'm not sure the cabby was happy about such a small fare) and I woke my room mate Keith West up. My first panel wasn't until 11 a.m., so I had time for some sleep. We caught breakfast in the hotel.

The first panel was "Using Softer Sciences in Genre Fiction", with Steve Utley as moderator. It seemed to go well, and was a good opportunity to visit with Steve, who I saw for the last and first time as last year's con.

I thought the panel at 1 p.m. on "Short Fiction" was very helpful to the audience. Don Webb, Carrie Richerson, Alexis Glynn Latner, J.K. Cheney, Mikal Trimm and I all had useful insights and stories to tell.

The panel at 4 p.m. on "Texas" was, I think, a highlight of the convention. Given the subject, Joe Lansdale was the right guy to moderate it. Elizabeth Moon, Scott Cupp and Neal Barrett all had interesting stories to tell - Howard was a bit subdued, I thought. Joe pointed out that some Texas writers are really Yankee transplants, but I pointed out that us transplants are a big part of Texas now, also, and I matched his grandparents coming across the prairie in a covered wagon with my chugging along I-30 in a '74 Gremlin back in 1985.

I had promised Howard I would buy him dinner for writing the intro for my book, and we had a bunch of us go to Fuddruckers at 6 (it was within walking distance); me, Howard, Keith, K.D. Wentworth and Doug Potter. Howard seemed to be in good health - so much better than the same time as last year - and he really seemed to enjoy himself; a number of people commented on how happy he seemed at Fuddruckers.

My reading was at 8:30, and I had three amigos - Bill Ledbetter, Adrian Simmons and Tam Thompson - there In my rush to leave town I had forgotten to run off an unpublished story, so I read "The Cast Iron Dybbuk" from ASIM No. 19. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Afterwards, I caught the last half of the "Fireside Chat", which featured - among others - James P. Hogan and Howard. Hogan told a joke that struck me so funny I laughed until I fell out of my chair.

Hogan chaired my final panel of the day, "Is Hard Science Fiction Getting Harder to Write". By 10 p.m. the panelists were beginning to fade, but I think we did well by the hard core fans who were there. Adrian Simmons was on this panel with me.

Sunday I didn't have any panels. Went to lunch at a nearby Chinese restaurant with my younger brother, who lives in Austin. That afternoon a student from A&M buttonholed me about being a panelist at AggieCon. I had gone in 2005 and 2006. Unfortunately, it will be a week before ConDFW. I told him to send me a formal invite and I will weigh my options. I sat at the autograph table in the dealers' room from 2:30 to 3:00 and watched people packing up. It will be nice in the future after "Fantastic Texas" comes out for me to actually have a book to sign.

Keith and I watched Howard read his story from the "Dying Earth" anthology, "Frogskin Cap" at the con's conclusion, and we were on the road by 4:30. We rolled into Commerce about 10:30 and I got home about 11:45.

Back on line

Things have been difficult the last week. Our DSL box at home died last Wednesday and a new one didn't arrive until yesterday. It took until now to reconnect it. To re-establish the DSL service, we had to log onto our ATT account, and we couldn't. (I pay bills by phone or by mail). I didn't know the password, or our ATT email address - because I never use it - and I couldn't remember the answer to my own security question.

It was rather stunning, but the tech support had no way - they claimed - to help us, and after spending hours on the telephone my wife and I conceded that we would have to cancel our ATT account. The phone service is not an issue - we both have cell phones - but we would have to get internet service another way.

I called ATT to cancel our account, and when they asked why, I told them that I had no choice, but I had no way to access my own account. That got someone to finally take action, and after using another way to confirm my access, the service department got the tech department on the line and we finally got the information we needed to log on.

This all took hours. I would say it was like pulling teeth, but I've never had a tooth extraction take as long or be as painful.

I will try to get caught up all things 'DilloCon in up coming posts.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Raleigh, Reno et al

Some news I was very happy to hear coming out of WorldCon is that NASFIC next year will be in Raleigh, and the WorldCon in 2011 goes to Reno.

I think having the NASFIC is Raleigh is a great idea, and in fact I think their bid is the FIRST time I have ever pre-supported a bid (like with a few bucks).

Reno will be a great location for the WorldCon, too, great to have it in a western state.

WorldCon also saw the rollout of the Texas bid for WorldCon in 2013, which would be held in San Antonio. Things are looking better and better.

Really getting ready for ArmadilloCon...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

World Con, 'Dillo Con, et al

I wrote to the ArmadilloCon programming chair and sent my regrets for the Friday night panel on Texas alternate history, "Austin? No, Santa Anna is the capital of Texas!" Great panel, I think I might have suggested it myself in my questionnaire. Oh, well, it's my decision to take the bus. They were nice enough to add me onto a Saturday panel,

"Using Softer Sciences in Genre Fiction" Sat 11:00 AM-Noon Phoenix Central - S. Utley*, P. Griffin, T. Anderson, J. Vinge, L. S. Carl, L. Antonelli. History, Economics, Archaeology, Anthropology -- Where can they take your story?

That's my first panel of the con, since I'll be getting to Austin at about 3 a.m. on the Greyhound bus. Here are my other panels:

"Short Fiction" Sat 1:00 PM-2:00 PM deZavala - L. Antonelli, M. Trimm*, J. K. Cheney, C. Richerson, A. G. Latner, D. Webb. A stepping stone or a different type of work altogether?

"Texas!" - Sat 4:00 PM-5:00 PM Phoenix Central - J. Lansdale*, H. Waldrop, N. Barrett, L. Antonelli, S. Cupp, E. Moon. Texas as a place or idea.

"Is Hard Science Fiction Getting Harder to Write?" Sat 10:00 PM-11:00 PM Phoenix Central - J. Hogan*, A. Simmons, L. Antonelli, B. Mahoney, T. Anderson.

Asterisks mark the panel moderators.

My other stuff:

Reading Sat 8:30 PM-9:00 PM Robertson.

Autographing - Sun 2:00 PM-3:00 PM Dealers' Room, w/ T. Anderson, and M. Cardin.

Four panels on Saturday make the day worthwhile. They're nicely spread out. I'll certainly have some free time on Sunday.

This weekend is WorldCon in Montreal. Lots of s-f people are there, although the poor shape of the economy has kept a lot of people home, more than you think suppose. From what I saw on the web, it's about 75 in Montreal, and 101 in Austin

Some of the folks who are going to straight from Canada to Texas are going to get a rude awakening...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Bye-bye Baen's

The s-f community is reeling a bit today after Eric Flint announced on the Baen's Universe web site that they will be tossing in the towel after the April 2010 issue. Although it was close, in the end they didn't get enough paid subscribers to make money, and other issues - the overall national economic slump, Flint's heart by-pass operation in April - was just too much. I think this is the first pro market to go completely bust since the recession began.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Praise for the Professor

Tangent on-line has reviewed Issue No. 4 of Science Fiction Trails, and the reviewer, Aaron Bradford Starr, had nothing but praise for my story:

"Lou Antonelli’s story, “Professor Malakoff’s Amazing Ethereal Telegraph,” spends its opening building a single coherent setting, carefully working into the narrative both the political preoccupation of post-Civil War Reconstruction, and the growing public awareness of the advances of science. Mr. Antonelli is careful to explain scientific particulars to the reader only when his character, the rather dubiously-named Dr. Eustace K. Malakoff, can find a willing audience.

"And the details of Dr. Malakoff’s “ethereal telegraph” are very interestingly presented, making the so-called Professor less than a complete charlatan, but just enough of a trickster to intrigue. His ability to pull telegraph messages “from the ether,” as he claims, using just the power of his mind, is debunked for the reader before we ever see his show, and yet the potential for plot twists makes the story rumble forward unstoppably. Lou Antonelli has crafted a first-rate piece of historical science-fiction here, where the historical elements and scientific detail dovetail to make a strong, believable whole."

Mr. Starr also had some nice observations about the publication as a whole:

"Though there is some dispute, the genre of science fiction is generally agreed to be anchored in some time from the present forward, from the standpoint of the writer. Written work ages, of course, and most of the speculation never comes to pass, or, even more disconcertingly, arrives sooner than expected, and far more advanced and powerful than imagined. So used are we to the idea of science fiction as being predictive in viewpoint, and of a forward-looking orientation, that a collection such as Science Fiction Trails can be perplexing. While the occasional historic slant to a science fiction story has been seen before, a group of seven all under one cover is unusual, and to have them all rooted in a time and place as specific as the American west during the tumultuous years of unfettered expansion is a project of some ambition. The fact that this is a recurring effort, repeated annually, says something about the love that David Riley-–the publication’s editor and publisher--has for the concept."

Monday, August 03, 2009

Armadillcon programming

I got my schedule for ArmadilloCon, and I have to admit, I'm very very pleased. The highlight for me will be the panel Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Phoenix Central room simply titled "Texas!" with Joe Lansdale, Howard Waldrop, Neal Barrett, Scott Cupp, and Elizabeth Moon. I'm proud to be included with this bunch. This should be great. Joe will be the moderator.

Saturday night at 10 p.m. I'm on another panel in the Phoenix Room, "Is Hard Science Fiction Getting Harder to Write?, this one moderated by James P. Hogan. Adrian Simmons will be on this panel, also.

Saturday at 1 p.m. I'm on a panel in the deZavala Room, "Short Fiction", moderated by Mikal Trimm. It includes Alexis Glyn Latner and Don Webb.

My reading will be Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. I'm also scheduled for a signing at 2 p.m. Sunday.

My big regret is that they set up a fantastic panel at 10 p.m. Friday called "Austin? No, the capital of Texas is Santa Anna" on Texas alternate history - and put me down as moderator - and I can't make it. I told them originally I would be there by 5 p.m. because I planned to drive down Friday afternoon, but after the SoonerCon fiasco, I'm now taking a bus, and I won't get there until the early morning hours. But that's my fault and my problem. Others on the panel include Maureen McHugh and Steve Utley.

Otherwise, looks great. I'm really looking forward to it.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Fantastic Books

Warren Lapine has created a web page for his Fantastic Books imprint, part of his Wilder Publications.

You should visit and check out what's already available. Of course, they are planning to publish my collection in the near future.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Hamburger money

Got a check in the mail today from Abandoned Towers for the story they're running next spring, "Across the Plains". Not a big one, but it'll pay for some chow, and I think it's actually the first money to come in during this calendar year.

Otherwise, working on new stuff, revising old, preparing submissions bus ticket to Austin is stuck with magnet on refrig door. ArmadilloCon is in two weeks.

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...