Wednesday, August 31, 2011

People at ArmadilloCon

Since I made the commitment to man my table at the convention, I pretty much stayed there when I wasn't at any panels. Although the dealers' room closed at 6 p.m. Saturday, I then had panels at 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and a reading at 10 p.m. so I didn't have much free time, especially when you factor need the need for a meal. I was also tired after the long drive that morning. The net result was I never stepped foot in the con suite Saturday, or as it turned out, all all during the convention.

Still, I ran into a number of old friends. Two I didn't see enough of were Adrian Simmons and Bill Ledbetter, but as I mentioned in a previous post, Adrian was tied down at his own table in the dealers' room. I didn't see Bill until Sunday. Turns out he got to the con later than me, he had tp send a kid off to college at Tarleton in Stephenville.

The convention was an opportunity for me to meet some people I had never seen before. I didn't share any panels with the Guest of Honor, Paolo Pacigalupi, and I despaired of meeting him, and then Sunday morning I ran into him at the coffee shop in the atrium of the hotel. I told him that last fall when I met Paul DiFillipo in Providence we joked that if all three of us could get together in one place we'd have the vast majority of Italian-American s-f writers in the country (the other member would be Ben Bova).

I'd actually sent an email to Paul last spring urging him to come to ArmadilloCon so the three of use would get together, but I suppose he wasn't willing to blow hundreds of bucks for an airline ticket on a whim. Paolo had met Paul in the past, and asked me to pass long his regards. I bet we'll all meet finally in the WorldCon in San Antonio in 2013.

The main things I asked Paolo were his Italian roots (it was his great-great-grandfather, who he is named for, who trotted down the proverbial banana boat gangplank). In my case, it was my grandfather and parents who both immigrated. Also, I've always been puzzled by the fact that, when I read his short story "Pump Six", it was obvious the author was familiar with the physical layout of Columbia University in New York City - which I attended - but I have never seen any indication that Paolo attended Columbia. He said he didn't, but his wife went to Teachers College, so that's cleared up.

The Guest Editor was Lou Anders - someone else I have never met - and we shared a panel at 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon on "The Rise of Steampunk Fiction". The moderator was Katherine Kimbriel, and the other panelists were Bev Hale - a dear friend - and T.M. Wagner. It was a very good panel, with good discussion and lots of information - the panelists were will chosen - though it occasionally got confusing - at least to me - as people referred to "Lou". At one point I referred to Anders as "the real Lou".

Anders had nabbed the Hugo for Best Editor - Long Form at the WorldCon the previous weekend. As the panel broke up I suggested he should have brought it, and used it to bang on the table when he wanted to speak.

Old chum Jayme Blaschke and I were on the panel at 7 p.m. on "What is the Next Big Literary Movement in Texas?", which was moderated by Don Webb. The other panelists were Rhonda Eudaly, Lee Thomas and Katy Stauber. This panel I suppose was the obligatory Texas-themed panel, and in truth, I don't think we had much to say - but we flung the bull well. Don started the "TexCore" literary - which I suppose is hard-core Texas-themed fiction. This panel was more fun that informative - but what's wrong with that?

At 8 p.m. I was on the panel about "Cyberpunk - How it Influenced Fiction, technology and the World". How I managed to be on panels about Cyberpunk and Steampunk on the same day I'll never know. Bruce Sterling - who was a last minute addition to the con - was on this panel. I can recall that we've ever been on a panel before. The moderator was Chris Brown, and other panelists were Michael Finn and David Cake, who is the TAFF person this year from Australia. Rick Klaw was supposed to be there, but didn't make it. When I saw him Sundayhe said he was just not feeling well by that time.

This was a very well attended panel, with some very knowledgeable people, and I think the audience got a lot out of it. My supposition is that it was put there to make sure I didn't show up at the Elizabeth Moon and Wiscon panel, which was held at the same time.

One highlight (or low point) depending on how you look at it, was when I told a joke and it fell flatter than a pancake. I realized then I needed dinner and my blood sugar was really dropping.

Later than evening I attended a reading by Rie Sheridan Rose of the beginning of a horror story called "The Skellyman". It was very good, though not something I would write. Then at 10 p.m. I had my reading, which drew two people, who listened to my first eight-page rough draft of "The Stinky Men". I later leaned on their feedback for a rewrite.

After that it was to bed, I was exhausted.

The highlight of the con for me was the panel on "Secret History" held at noon on Sunday. In addition to being on the same panel with Howard Waldrop, it was loads of fun because this is really the type of fiction I have written the most best about.

The moderator was Madeliene Rose Dimond, and the other panelists were Steven Brust and Alan Porter. This was an interesting mix, especially since Brust writes high fantasy and Porter has worked primarily in comic books, but it worked very well.

The panel had the perfect combination of information and fun, I think the audience really got a kick out of it. The high point for me was, when during a discussion of how you can ever know what really happened in an event, we touched on the Dominque Straus-Kahn case. I dismissed DSK as "Pepe LePew with money" and Howard nearly died laughing.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More from the dealers' room

By the way, I gave away Bic Orange Fine Point pens to anyone who bought a copy of "Music for Four Hands" from me in ArmadilloCon. That way, they would have the pen the book was signed with, and I helped spread the pen - kinda like Johnny Appleseed and apple seeds.

I saw a number of chums in the dealers' room, including Scott and Sandi Cupp. Bruce Sterling had a table down the aisle. It seems he's pretty much living in Turin now, but he was home for a while and had a garage sale; of course, his garbage was more interesting that most people's collectibles.

Adrian Simmons was farther down the block, with his own book publisher. I didn't really get a chance to talk, since he was tied up there, and unfortunately we didn't share any panels.

Joe and Kasey Lansdale were down the block and around the corner, selling Mojo-iana as usual.

My autograph session was Sunday at 2 p.m. and I shared the table with Josh Rountree and Rick Klaw, two very knowledgeable people. It was to have a few people stop by and get their books signed; I've had many times in the past when I sat there without so much as a bill collector stopping by. I know in at least one case I sent someone down to Zane Melder at Edge Books and they also came back with a copy of "Fantastic Texas" for me to sign.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Anthology sale

I've signed a contract to have "Good News for the Dead" reprinted in an anthology called "Zombified" being published by Sky Warrior Books. I had submitted the story to the editor Carol Hightshoe. Sky Warrior is run by Maggie Bonham.
On their web site they describe themselves as "publishers of quality Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror in e-book formats by established authors."
"Good News for the Dead" was originally published in M-Brane SF No. 3 (April 2009). Scott Cupp, in his June 23rd review of "Texas & Other Planets" on the Missions Unknown web site, said it was an "interesting zombie story (a rare thing in my opinion)."
This will be the first time I've had a story reprinted in a themed anthology. It should be out this fall.

The typewriter times

Spent Saturday and Sunday in Austin at ArmadilloCon. My idea about bringing a portable typewriter to my table in the dealers' room proved to be a great idea. In the two days I actually banged out a 12-page story, a homage to Howard Waldrop and "The Ugly Chickens" called "The Stinky Men".

I sold enough copies of "Music for Four Hands" (ten) to pay for the table rental to recoup my cost of the table, so the venture cost me nothing. Having the table was like having a private office, it gave me a place to hang out and spread my stuff. And instead of looking like some lonely mook trying to sell books, I had something to do between visits with bystanders.

I worked Friday and didn't leave Mount Pleasant until 5:30 a.m. Saturday, so I didn't get to the convention until about 11:15 a.m. I set up my stuff and went to lunch with my younger brother, who lives in Austin. I left the typewriter behind with a sheet of paper in it where I had banged "Out to Lunch".

I was back by 1:15 and the rest of the afternoon - except when I had a panel at 3 p.m. - I spent at my table, visiting and typing. Bill Crider came by and bought the first copy of "Music for Four Hands", which I suitably autographed. He took a photo of me at work, which you can see on his blog.

The story actually flowed well enough that I had an eight-page first draft done by the time the dealers' room closed at 6 p.m. I read that story at my scheduled reading at 10 p.m. - which despite the late hour attracted two people - and on Sunday backed up a bit and did a new ending.
Jayme Blaschke read the first draft of "Stinky Men" earlier in the evening and he also said the ending was weak, but I was actually surprised that I could come up with something finished by the time the dealers' room closed. I need to send him a photocopy of the final version.

I will go back and made correct some typos I made along the way, but I have something that - while not the most brilliant story in the world - will at least not make editors' "eyes bleed" - to use one of Howard Waldrop's phrases.

The story, as I said, is obviously inspired by "The Ugly Chickens" and I flat-out used a "Professor Waldrop" in the story. I probably should sent Howard a copy, too, just for grins.

People said they could hear the clacking of the typewriter all across the dealers' room, and a number of people stopped by in search of the sound. Some also took pictures; it was cute when a few people with children told them what I was doing, since the youngsters didn't even know what a typewriter was.

A few people also made comparisons to Harlan Ellison (who wrote a story back in the 1980s called "Hitler Painted Roses" while sitting in a store window) and, of course, Howard, who still uses a typewriter for real.

I probably will send "The Stinky Men" to Gordon VanGelder at F&SF since he is the last of he Big Three magazines that only takes hard copy. Even if he doesn't buy it, he can still say years from now that he still got a typed submission - by mail - as late as 2011.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Leaving for ArmadilloCon

I'm hitting the road early Saturday morning for Austin and will be spending Saturday and Sunday at ArmadilloCon, so bye for now!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Music for Four Hands"

I came home this afternoon and found a box leaning on the front door. I got the 20 copies of "Music for Four Hands" from Yard Dog Press. The officious release date for the chapbook - the date in the book - is Sept. 1, 2011, but I will be selling copies at ArmadilloCon this weekend. That's advance sales I guess. That's one of the reasons I rented tables in the Dealers' Room. In addition to giving me a place to park my portable typewriter I will have copies of "Music" there. Zane Melder with Edge Books will have copies of "Fantastic Texas" and "Texas & Other Planets", but I knew that "Music" would come out so close to the con that the only way to have it there would be if I bring it myself - which I will indeed do.

Since "Fantastic Texas" was published in 2009 and "Texas & Other Planets" in 2010, this means I will have had three books published in three years.

When I came home, it was earlier than usual. A thunderstorm rolled through the city - the first genuine gully-washer in months and months. I haven't rolled up the windows of my car in ages, and I ran out in the rain to do that. I got soaked and chilled, and an hour later began to retch. I went home, took some medicine, and went to bed. I'm feeling better now.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

News from Tallahassee (?)

There was some surprising news today from Ann Vandermeer, to wit:


I am very sad to have to tell you that my editorship at Weird Tales, which has included one Hugo Award win and three Hugo Award nominations, is about to come to an end. The publisher, John Betancourt of Wildside Press, is selling the magazine to Marvin Kaye.

Kaye is buying the magazine because he wants to edit it himself. He will not be retaining the staff from my tenure. I wish him the best with the different direction he wants to pursue, including his first, Cthulhu-themed issue. The current issue of Weird Tales is #358, just published. My last issue will be #359, which Kaye plans to publish in February of next year. Other stories I bought will be published in various issues thereafter.

The past five years reading fiction for Weird Tales magazine has been an honor for me. I had a blast doing this but I have also contributed to the canon of “the weird tale”—a responsibility I take seriously, not only for the readers of today, but for the readers of tomorrow. This iconic magazine originally blazed a trail for new approaches to dark fantastical fiction, and I did my best to return to that legacy. In addition to bringing home the first Hugo Award win in the history of Weird Tales, I was also only the second female editor of the magazine, and presided over the only all-female staff ever for the magazine.


Ann goes on to offer thanks, her future plans as well as she knows them, and something of a valedictory. If you want to read the rest on the Weird Tales web site, go here:

I had the opportunity to meet and visit with Ann in June at ApolloCon. She was very nice and struck me as very dedicated to the genre. I'm sure she and husband Jeff will go on to bigger and better things, but still, everyone hates an unplanned and unanticipated career move.

Monday, August 22, 2011

News from Reno

The world science fiction convention was in Reno this past weekend. The s-f pros and diehards were all gathered up and appeared to have a good time, from all the postings on the internet I read. I really doubt I'm an important enough writer to spend time at a world con; I went to NASFIC in St. Louis back in 2007 and got the cold shoulder from a number of pros.

Also, WorldCon always seems to be the weekend before ArmadilloCon, and I simply don't have the stamina to attend two cons on two successive weekends. So now, I'm looking forward to 'DilloCon this weekend. I have a few friends there and a decent set of panels, considering I'm not getting there until Saturday morning (I work mornings Saturday on my job at the newspaper, so to attend all three days of a con I'd have to burn TWO vacation days. My compromise is to work Friday and take Saturday off).

Next month I will go to Fencon in Dallas, and in December I plan to be at Contraflow in New Orleans.

San Antonio won the vote in Rno to host WorldCon in 2014, which should be fun. Everything I've heard about the last WorldCon there in 1997 was positive. Although I doubt I'll be any closer to being considered a serious s-f writer then, I'm sure I'll attend because it's so close.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


A few months ago I made plans to offer a class through the continuing education department of the local community college, "The Art and Craft of Writing Speculative Fiction". Plans went well for a while, but about a month ago the department went silent and now communication has completely ceased. I guess the class was rejected and the director didn't want to face me. The only reason I know she's alive is that I saw her picture in the paper. Oh, well.

And over a year ago I sent my novel version of "The Witch of Waxahachie" to a New York publisher. I've queried a few times in the past couple of weeks, but, again, I can't even get a a reply. I suppose no reply is a rejection.

I think during the Recession some people are being stretched so thin at their jobs they can only keep up with bare essentials, and they don't even have time to tell you to go away.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Return of the "Dinosaur"

Ten years ago, before I had any inkling I would be interested in writing s-f, I caught an episode of the latest version of "The Outer Limits" on satellite TV. I had been flipping around channels when I saw this particular story was set on a moon base and had a teleporter and aliens and all that stuff, so I stopped and watched it.

The title, "Think Like a Dinosaur", meant nothing to me. The credits said it was based on a short story by someone named James Patrick Kelly, who for all I knew was a Boston City Council member.

I was fascinated, though. I had stopped paying attention to s-f years earlier, but this episode had stuff in it that reminded me what I liked - and disliked - about s-f. A little while later, I took out a collection of short stories by the same title by the same Kelly from the local library.

I quickly realized Kelly's story had been - ahem - rather altered in the adaptation, and in fact the Outer Limits version had pretty much rammed "Dinosaur" and "The Cold Equations" and a few other stories together all together.

These kind of crappy adaptations sometimes serve as "gateways" to real s-f. This episode, along with the movie adaptation of "Minority Report" a while later (which I had to watch because my wife likes Tom Cruise) helped pique my interest in the genre at the time, so that by Labor Day in 2002 I took a few hours and wrote my first story.

I lurched home from work this evening - feeling all of the 103 degrees, which is still six degrees less than it was a week ago - and realizing I had missed the national newscast, spun the dial on DirecTV. I saw that on the Chiller channel they were showing that episode of "Think Like a Dinosaur".

I watched it again.

Wow. Despite being a rank amateur, I've spent a a lot of time during the past decade catching up on the genre, and it was certainly an experience seeing it again. A very different experience.

I was a bit surprised to see that Enrico Colantoni - the guy who stars in "Flashpoint - played Michael Burr. I didn't remember that.

I DO know who James Patrick Kelly is, now, though.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Latest on "Music for Four Hands"

I got word from Yard Dog Press that "Music for Four Hands" has arrived from the printer, so copies should be on the way shortly. I've ordered 15 copies to take to ArmadilloCon.

I'm rather frustrated. I woke up this morning and realized a bunch of plot problems in a particular story I've been working on had resolved themselves in my mind while I slept. I was very pleased BUT I didn't make any notes and for some reason my memory wasn't engaged. I have completely forgotten what story it was. Crap! Until I remember the story I can't access the solutions.

Friday, August 12, 2011


The Friends of the Library in the next county over is planning an authors event Oct. 8 in conjunction with a civic festival. I got a call from the head librarian and was invited to attend, so I have added that to my calendar.

"Music for Four Hands" should be in the warehouse soon. With a little luck I will copies to peddle and sign at ArmadilloCon.

No writing this week, my mother-in-law was visiting. No rejections, though. I have nine stories in various slush piled.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

ArmadilloCon sched

Well, the programming schedule has been emailed for ArmadilloCon. Here are my panels:

Sa1500SA The Rise of Steampunk Fiction
Sat 3:00 PM-4:00 PM San Antonio
L. Anders*, L. Antonelli, B. Hale, K. Kimbriel, T. Wagner

Sa1900T What is the Next Big Literary Movement in Texas SF/F?
Sat 7:00 PM-8:00 PM Trinity
L. Antonelli, J. Blaschke, R. Eudaly, K. Stauber, D. Webb*, L. Thomas

Sa2000SA Cyberpunk: How it Influenced Fiction, Technology, and the World
Sat 8:00 PM-9:00 PM San Antonio
L. Antonelli, Mi. Finn, R. Klaw, C. Nakashima-Brown*

Su1200SM Secret History
Sun Noon-1:00 PM San Marcos
L. Antonelli, S. Brust, M. Dimond*, A. Porter, H. Waldrop

Asterisks denote panel moderators.

Also, here is my reading and my signing:

Sa2200SM Reading
Sat 10:00 PM-10:30 PM San Marcos
Lou Antonelli

Su1400DR Signing
Sun 2:00 PM-3:00 PM Dealers' Room
L. Antonelli, R. Klaw, J. Rountree

Monday, August 08, 2011

Table at 'DilloCon

ArmadilloCon in Austin is coming up Aug. 26-28, and they have made an offer to authors that I decided to take advantage of. They will let you buy a half table in the dealer's room. I've decided to take them up on that. It will give me a place to hang my hat, and I plan to bring my Smith-Corona Classic 12 portable typewriter and show the younger generation the way it was done. I bet I can bang off a few stories in my free time.

I will not be selling copies of "Fantastic Texas" and "Texas & Other Planets" because Zane Melder will have them at Edge Books, but "Music for Four Hands" should be available from Yard Dog Press by then, so I think I will take the opportunity to sell it.

I will not be at the convention in time to participate in the dealers' room Friday, but I expect to be there all day Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

The week past

During this past week I spent some time "rehabbing" - for lack of a better word - some stories or partial stories. On the basis of some feedback from an editor who praised - but didn't accept - "Snow Globe", I rewrote the ending a bit. I sent the revised version off the Gordon Van Gelder at F&SF, and since he is one of the last editors who still wants hard copy submissions, I typed a cover letter on my Smith Corona Classic 12 portable typewriter. I thought that was funny - it may be one of the last submissions anyone ever sees in hard copy with a typewritten cover letter.

On the subject of the typewriter, I have been "rehabbing" it some, also, mainly cleaning the keys. It's typing cleaner than ever. You know old typewriters with old cloth ribbons would get dirt lodged in tight spots in letters, like "a" and "o" and "e". Whoever last owned it hadn't cleaned it recently; what's impressive is that, other than being slightly dirty, it's in fine condition.

I also sent back out another three short stories in various slush piles. Right now I have nine stories in various places. With the publication of "The Goddess of Bleecker Street" in Kalkion last week, I've had seven stories published this year, and that's cut down on my supply. There's a few stories that I intend to pull out and rework, now that they've "aged" a bit.

The other main genre-related work I didn't this week was fill out the survey for Fencon, which I will be attending in September in Dallas, and I also filled out paper work for GalaxyFest, which will be in Colorado Springs next February.

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...