Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Mak Siccar"

The summer issue of Four Star Stories is now live. I had the story "Meet Me at the Grassy Knoll" in the first issue this spring, and in this issue I have "Mak Siccar". They are both alternate histories - "Meet Me" is obviously about the Kennedy assassination, while "Mak Siccar" is about the sinking of the Titanic.

This issue also features stories by Selina Rosen, Rick Copple and David Gray, plus some great illustrations by Guest Artist Brad Foster.

Speaking of Selina Rosen, I have received my galley of the chapbook "Music for Four Hands" from Yard Dog Press, which features four collaborations between myself and Ed Morris. I spent all this evening reading it. That's the cover there at top, which was drawn by Allison Stein. Right now it looks to have a Sept. 1 publication date.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Notes from ApolloCon Part Three

I should mention that Saturday, while visiting in the hallway with Rhonda Eudaly-Simpson and John DeNardo, the subject of pens came up. Rhonda apparently maintains a web site on the subject of pens. Of course, the discussion turned to the Bic Orange Fine Point. I took about 15 of them with me to Houston, and after we all talked for a while, I reached into my tote sack, pulled out a fistful of the pens, and asked Rhonda "You want one?" She did. She said on Facebook later she plans to review it.

My first panel Sunday was at 11 a.m. so I had a little time to visit with friends. Beforehand I was asked if I minded to have my picture made with a little girl who won the Best in Show title at the masquerade the night before. She was The Book Fairy, and had a magic wand and wings and a sash with a number of book covers on a ribbon. It wasn't until after the photo was taken that dad pointed out "Fantastic Texas" was one of the books on her sash. I felt so honored.

I was rather perplexed at the panel at 11, "Urban Fantasy: Unleash Your Inner Freak". The other panelists were people who could speak to the subject - Garbrielle Faust, Julia Mandala and Stina Leicht, who was the moderator. I said right off the bat I think I was there as a control; I'm the least freakish person I know. But the other panelists were really into the subject and their enthusiasm carried over to the audience.

More visiting afterwards, including with Ann Vandermeer again. In the afternoon, after wandering by the dealers' room, something caught my eye, and I walked in to see Russ Miller from Dallas buying a copy of "Fantastic Texas" from Zane Melder at Edge Books. That was great timing, I signed it for him right there. While we were chatting James "Jazzman" Savage walked up with a copy he had bought earlier, so I also signed his.

The drive back to Mount Pleasant was peaceful and uneventful. A great con, and I think everyone who attended enjoyed it. I will be back next year.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Notes from ApolloCon Part 2

Got up Saturday morning and decided to eat breakfast in the hotel restaurant. The food was good, but I was surprised at the coffee - it somehow managed to be both strong and tasteless. It tasted more like dishwashing soap than anything. For $14, it was definitely a waste of money.

Continued to run into friends, visited with Jayme Blaschke and Ann Vandermeer more, then had my first panel at 10 a.m. on "What's in a Genre?". Topic was a bit dry, but the panelists were good for the subject, including Moderator Alexis Glynn Latner, Chris N. Brown, Courtney Stoker and Kathy Thornton. Latner works at Rice University, Brown is an attorney and Stoker is a grad student in Victorian Science Fiction Literature. Thornton is primarily known as a fan.

After an hour's break, I had my turn at the signing table at noon with Lee Martinez. He's a much better known and popular author than I am, but there were still some people who wanted to visit with me. Unfortunately, this is when I realized that Zane Melder with Edge Books had run out of "Texas & Other Planets". One fellow who couldn't buy a copy in the dealers room stood there with me and ordered it from Amazon through his iPhone.

Glenda Boozer was someone who visited with me at the signing table, and also James "Jazzman" Savage.

Then at 1 p.m. I had my reading, which was a room on the 7th floor. C.J. Mills and I shared the time. She read a first-person tale in a Medieval setting, and then I read my latest story, "Watch What Happens", a little Twilight-Zone like piece, only 2,700 words, that I wrote last Tuesday so I would have something to run through a reading.

It was very well received by the audience, and their advice and comments were very helpful, especially because they helped me decide some plot choices. When I told them I wrote it in two hours, they were surprised because it wasn't all that rough, but I reminded them I'm a journalist and I'm used to writing for publication on deadline.

Before the reading I told Ann Vandermeer I will send her "Watch What Happens" as soon as it is finished, and the response at the reading convinced me it will turn out pretty good.

The panel at 4 p.m. was apparently designed just for fun, "SF Coup D'Etat", which meant if you could vote, which science fiction character would you have running the government? Kathy Thornton and Derly Ramirez joined me on this one again, along with Larry Friesen. It was a nice interactive panel but didn't add much to the genre, if you know what I mean. It was mostly opinion, and not a lot of information.

Earlier I had met and chatted with Bill and Judy Crider. Bill was one of the people who wanted to buy a copy of "Texas & Other Planets" in the dealers room. I had promised him that if there were none available, I would sell him the one extra copy I had. I caught Bill and Judy at the end of his last panel at 6 p.m. and told him I had learned they were all sold out, so he bought it.

Normally, Bill and Judy and Scott Cupp go to a certain Mexican restaurant, but Scott stayed home that weekend and rested. I suggested I take Scott's place, so the three of us went down to Tony's on Ella Blvd. Before we left we three stopped in the hotel restaurant where a contingent of the usual suspects were having dinner, including Jayme Blaschke, John Denardo, Lawrence Person, Stina Liecht, and Ann Vandermeer, and said our hellos.

I must admit, Bill, Judy and Scott know their restaurants, Tony's had very good Tex-Mex cuisine, and I enjoyed dinner a lot.

Back at the hotel later, I made the round of the room parties, which included Texas 2013, London 2014, ConJour, ConDFW, and FenCon.

I got back to the motel earlier than the previous night, but KUBE-TV was playing an episode of the original Outer Limits, "The Production and Decay of Strange Particles', and I stayed up until midnight to watch it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Notes from ApolloCon Part One

Well, I have returned from Houston and ApolloCon. I have to say it turned out to be one of the best and most enjoyable cons I have attended. Many things went right.

Last Wednesday I was beginning to get worried. The web page was very out of date, and no programming had been posted. I was starting to wonder whether it had fallen apart at the last minute. I planned to rent a car for the trip (my 'town car' is a 1982 Chevrolet Celebrity, so I always rent a car when I travel outside the immediate area) and I was reluctant to schedule the rental if the con was going to fizzle.

It seems now that there were some problems, but they were specific to the web page, and everything otherwise was on track. I received my itinerary late Wednesday and it was reassuring. As it happened I couldn't leave Mount Pleasant early enough to make my first panel at 6 p.m. Friday, but otherwise I made all my assignments.

Another good thing was the rental itself, I was upgraded to a Chrysler 200, a very nice and new car. I left Mount Pleasant Friday afternoon and after checking into my motel (to save money, I did not stay at the con hotel) arrived at the con in plenty of time for my 10 p.m. panel.

Normally, you would think a 10 p.m. panel would struggle for attendance, but the panel on "Zombies, Werewolves and Vampires (Oh, My!) had at least 30 people. I was the moderator, and all the panelists made it, including Derly Ramirez, Gabrielle Faust, Julia Mandala and O.M. Grey.

The large and attentive audience seemed to motivate the panelists, and what ensued was one of the most interesting panels I have ever seen. The panelists were all at their very best, and fed off the audience's enthusiasm. I even made that observation, that everyone seemed to be putting out their best effort. The enjoyment and enthusiasm seemed to be contagious.

By 11 p.m. everyone had had a very good evening. We all - panelists and audience members -left very satisfied.

It was a very good start to the con for me, and a great ending of the first day for many people.

I attended some of the room parties, and also met and visited with old chums Jayme Blaschke and John DeNardo. Jayme Blaschke has always spoken well of ApolloCon, and it was in part due to his testimony that I attended for the first time last year. Then, ironically, he couldn't attend last year due to family commitments. But he made it this year.

I also met Guest Editor Ann Vandermeer Friday night, for the first time in person. We have communicated a number of times over the years, but this was the first time we were able to "shake and howdy". We met and chatted a number of times over the weekend.

I was in bed by about 2 p.m. ready for my first full day at the con.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fantastic Review

Well, I am dumbfounded at the high praise Scott Cupp heaps on "Texas & Other Planets" in his review published today at Missions Unknown, an s-f, fantasy and horror web site based in San Antonio.
Forgotten Book: Texas And Other Planets by Lou Antonelli
By Scott A. Cupp, on June 23rd, 2011

Texas And Other Planets by Lou Antonelli, 2010, Merry Blacksmith Press

This is the 55th in my series of Forgotten Books.
This is not so much a Forgotten Book as a totally ignored book. Lou Antonelli is a transplanted Yankee of Italian descent. He moved to Texas a long time ago and married a Texas girl. I believe, if I recall Texas law correctly, that makes him a naturalized Texas citizen. He still talks and looks like a Yankee. That cannot be helped. But, he writes like a demon. I’m not sure if it is a heavenly or hellish demon. I just wish I did it as often and as well.
Texas And Other Planets is Lou’s second collection, following Fantastic Texas (2009). It contains 20 short stories, half of which received Recommended Reading status in Gardner Dozois’ annual Years Best SF. And, after reading all this collection, let me state, that those honors were earned through hard work and tough writing.
Lou began his writing career as a journalist and did not have his first short story published until 2003, and that was online at, a spot that published several of my pieces along the way.
But, that’s enough about Lou, let’s talk about the stories. The collection opens with my favorite “A Rocket For the Republic” which discusses in great detail the history of the Texas space exploration program. It holds the distinction of being the last story purchased by Dozois for ASIMOV’S before he retired. It’s very good, a solid hook and clear voice that grabs you in. The second story is “A Djinn for General Houston”. All about a guy with a magic lamp and the War for Texas Independence. Do you sense a theme here? Two stories with strong ties to Texas. Check out the title of the book. They all have ties.
Texas is as much a character in these stories as it is a part of the nature of all who live here. I cannot write with conviction about New York or Boston, but I can do it about San Antonio and Dallas. Lou Antonelli has those same convictions. He does not beat you over the head with it. The nature of the state and the people are just there. Tangible and alive. Read “Dispatches From the Troubles” about the formation of the American Irish Republic headed by John Kennedy in Londonderry (Harlingen) or “Rome, If You Want To” which features a scenic tour of Dallas or “Good News For the Dead”, an interesting zombie story (a rare thing in my opinion) or “The Silver Dollar Saucer” where two owlhoots find themselves shanghaied on a flying saucer and taken to the other side of the universe.
Each story has an introduction by Lou with some history of how it came about. I found these quite fascinating too. Jayme Blaschke (a good friend of this blog) was the editor at RevolutionSF when Lou first started writing and he provides a thoughtful introduction. I did not find a clunker in the bunch, and that is another rare occurrence. Check it out and visit Texas and Lou. You’ll like the trip.
The book is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble (but not Borders) and ABE. No copies on eBay as I write this. So I believe it to be generally available and well worth your time. You’ll see a newish writer breaking out, stretching his wings and showing his imagination. What more could you want?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Reader response

My story "Ghost Writer" that was published last Friday at Flashes in the Dark got one reader comment. Angel Zapata wrote on June 17th, 2011 at 6:15 am:

"I like this. You did a great job at providing an original take on the afterlife. Although, if this is true, us writerly types are gonna have a hard time destroying all the work we’ve created…"

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I got a rejection back from the The New Yorker for my little bit of wacky alternate history, "Custodes". The editor wrote me a note again, said "an interesting play of anachronisms, thanks for the original story."

The story supposes Archimedes invented the electric motor, so by the time of the Roman Empire of the first century they have subways and television. Therefore, the persecution of the Christians is televised as reality television ("Custodes" = "Cops").

I especially like the piece of business when the family gets the first color television on their block. The "Rainbow Teleceptor" is delivered by the department store that uses the logo of the Emperor and Stag, "Caesar and Roebuck".

Friday, June 17, 2011

"Ghost Writer"

Flashes in the Dark published my horror story "Ghost Writer" yesterday. Other than "Off the Hook", the story I wrote in collaboration with Ed Morris that was published in Dark Recesses, I can't recall I've had anything published that seemed to be straight horror.

4 Star Stories will be coming out with its next issue Thursday, and it will feature my alternate history "Mak Siccar". From what I've heard, the issue will have a great line-up.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Honorable Mention

Thanks to Amazon I learned today that I made the list of Honorable Mention stories for 2010 printed at the back of 2011 edition of "The Year's Best Science Fiction 28th Annual Collection", published by St. Martin's Griffin. This is the annual anthology put together by Gardner Dozois. I had one of two stories stories cited from GUD's issue No. 6 (Summer 2010). In addition to "Dispatches from The Troubles", Caroline Yoachim was cited for "What Happens In Vegas".

This is the 11th time I've made the list since I first appeared in 2004. I missed out last year; the last story I had was "The Witch of Waxahachie" in 2008.

Monday, June 13, 2011


I spent some time today working on a Twilight Zone-like story with a twist ending to the Titanic disaster. It is slated to be published in an ezine next week. It's come back twice for revisions, and quite frankly, it's become a distraction now instead of fun. It simply isn't an important enough story to agonize over. I'm falling behind on getting some other chores knocked out.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

New fields

I've accepted my first invite for 2012, I will be a Guest Author at Galaxy Fest 2012. It is the media and literary convention held in Colorado Springs the last weekend in February. Next year it will be held Feb. 24-26. ConDFW will be the weekend before that. Ordinarily I wouldn't book two cons on two successive weekends, but Con DFW is so close I don't think it will be an issue.
I've never been to Colorado Springs (except for a visit to Pike's Peak in 1989 while on vacation), so I look forward to the proverbial 'new horizons'.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

A rare foray into horror

"Flashes in the Dark" will be publishing my horror flash story "Ghost Writer" on June 16. This is one of my few forays into straight horror. "Flashes in the Dark" bills itself as "Home to some of the best horror flash fiction on the internet and the only every day flash fiction site that specializes in HORROR stories!" Thanks to Editor Lori Titus for the acceptance; this will be my 55th published story and my first in "Flashes". I also have another story lined up to be published in an ezine June 23rd, I'm working on the edits. This is a more typical Antonelli-type short story with time travel and alternate history.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Give my regards to OKC

I'm sorry I missed Soonercon in Oklahoma City this past weekend, but I needed to stay close to home; both high schools in the county had their senior graduation this past weekend. We also had a nasty thunderstorm roll through Saturday night; one of those schools lost its roadside signage right after graduation (someone commented it was God's way of saying school was REALLY out!)

I've picked up CONtraflow, which is in New Orleans Nov. 4-6. That brings me back to six cons for the year, which is my limit. I've never been to that con - heck, I really don't think I've ever been to New Orleans - so it should be a learning experience. It will be a seven-hour drive from here in East Texas.

Friday, June 03, 2011

SLF Awards Older Writers Grant

I mentioned last week that I had been informed about the outcome of my application for the Speculative Literature Foundation's Older Writer Grant. The SLF put out the news release yesterday - June 5th - about the outcome. Here it is:

Press Release #33

The Speculative Literature Foundation is pleased to announce that its eighth annual Older Writers Grant is to be awarded to Shauna Roberts. The $750 grant is intended to assist writers who are fifty years of age or older at the time of the grant application, and who are just starting to work at a professional level.

Born in Dayton, Ohio, Roberts grew up in nearby Beavercreek. From childhood, she dreamed of writing fiction, but that dream took a back seat to her nonfiction writing career and other activities when her mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 and died soon after. With a keener sense of her own mortality, Roberts joined the New Orleans chapter of the Romance Writers of America and a critique group. There, she began squeezing in time between magazine articles to write short stories and work on a novel.

In 2009, Roberts attended the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. Just a couple of years later, she was accepted as an associate member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Recurring themes in her novels and short stories include loss, prejudice and tolerance, and social issues such as class, sex, and religion. Roberts also enjoys reworking old ballads and folk tales. A former Katrina refugee, Roberts has recently written several short stories set during the aftermath and failure of the federal levees in New Orleans. “Bosphorus Dreams,” which was Roberts’ entry for the Older Writers Grant, will be the first of those stories to be published. Slated to appear in the anthology, A Quiet Shelter There, it is scheduled for publication in fall of 2011 by Hadley Rille Books. The anthology is edited by Gerri Leen and will benefit an animal shelter.

Grant Administrator Malon Edwards said of Roberts’ entry, “Bosphorus Dreams”: “Judith is an emotionally-fragile woman in the beginning of the story, but through curt and witty dialogue with cats and a gradual bolstering of her confidence, she gains emotional strength. By the end of the story, she’s more than just a grieving woman who has fled New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina for Istanbul. She’s a woman who has saved a city.”

Honorable Mentions for the Older Writers Grant go to Marcelle Dubé, Anne Pillsworth, Ada Milenkovic Brown, F.J. Bergmann, and Lou Antonelli for their intriguing and entertaining submissions, which made the selection of the winner a competitive but enjoyable process.
The Speculative Literature Foundation is a volunteer-run, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the interests of readers, writers, editors and publishers in the speculative literature community.
“Speculative literature” is a catch-all term meant to inclusively span the breadth of fantastic literature, encompassing literature ranging from hard and soft science fiction to epic fantasy to ghost stories to folk and fairy tales to slipstream to magical realism to modern mythmaking–any literature containing a fabulist or speculative element.
More information about the Speculative Literature Foundation is available from its web site ( or by writing to
To be removed from the Speculative Literature Foundation press release mailing list please write to

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

"Governor Shivers and the Golem Army of Texas"

The death this past weekend of former Gov. Bill Clements, who was the first governor to serve two full four-year terms in office, reminded me of Allan Shivers, who held the previous record of service at seven and a half years (Rick Perry has subsequently eclipsed them both).

When I drove into Texas on Jan. 15, 1985, in my little blue Gremlin, the radio was full of talk of Shivers, who died the day before. I had no idea who the man was.

I later learned that Shivers played a pivotal tole in the evolution of modern Texas. When the Democrats nominated Adlai Stevenson for president in 1952, and again in 1956, it was Shivers who led the "Democrats for Ike" with the reasoning that Texans should support the more conservative candidate, regardless of party.

Thanks to the Governor and his "Shivercrats", the habit of voting yellow dog Democratic each election was broken (Eisenhower carried Texas in both elections). Bill Clements was the eventual beneficiary, being elected the first Republican governor of Texas since Reconstruction in 1978.

Thinking on it, it occurred to me that Shivers is simply a cool name, and one of those flashes of inspiration that occasionally hits me, a title came to me, "Governor Shivers and the Golem Army of Texas".

I started writing Monday, and so far I'm up to 3,100 words. It's a welcome break from my Rebuild Series, and a great opportunity to weave in some crazy secret history set in the Civil Rights Era, the same milieu as "The Fontane Sisters are Dead", which also features a golem.

The picture I've used to illustrate this post is the cover of Time magazine from Sept. 29, 1952, when Shivers' going over to Eisenhower was making waves nationally.

Thanks to John DeNardo on listing my previous post, "Paean to a Pen", over at SF Signal. I received a few nice comments.

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...