Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Digging on Olympus"

Back on Nov. 17 I got a three and a half-page start to "Digging on Olympus" before my cold turned into sinusitis and I got real sick. I finally picked up where I left off this evening, and I suppose I'm feeling much better, because I finished the first draft of the story. It came in at 15 pages, so I'm guessing it's 4,400 words.

I'll have to run it through OCR software to turn it into a Word file.

"Pirates of the Ozarks" sold

David Riley of Science Fiction Trails says the contract's in the mail for my latest weird western, "Pirates of the Ozarks", which will be published in Issue No. 8 in 2012. That will be my third story in Science Fiction Trails; "Professor Malakoff's Amazing Ethereal Telegraph" was published in Issue No. 4, and "A Djinn for General Houston" was published in Issue No. 5.
The cover over there was for the issue that featured "Professor Malakoff", I still think that cover's a hoot.

That's my third story already slated for publication in 2012, since Daily Science Fiction has bought "Great White Ship" and Buzzy Mag has bought "The Centurion and the Rainman".

I'm recovering from this bout of sinusitis, I've been taking anti-biotics since Tuesday, and I think I'm about ready to write up some new stories.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Haven't gotten back to the short story I started a week ago, the onset of my cold prevented that. I went to the doctor and got a shot and a prescription Tuesday. That seems to be helping, but this was one of the worst cases of sinusitis I've had in a while.

Patricia and I will be leaving in a few hours to her mother's for Thanksgiving. She lives an hour away, between here and Dallas.

I got an invite to submit to a weird western-themed anthology yesterday. I think I have something for them.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Drink Tank 300 debuts

Well, Chris Garcia got his Drink Tank 300 out today. The "300" refers to the number on contributors, and in the enumeration I am No. 248. The PDF document is 271 pages and can be found here.

Chris won the fanzine Hugo last August for Drink Tank, and less than a month later we were both guest authors at FenCon/Deep South Con in Dallas - we served on one panel together. That was the first time I ever met him (and vice versa). I was doing my schtick typing a story on a portable typewriter in the second floor gallery of the hotel Saturday night when I came up with "The Quantum Gunman", a 1,300 word "muddled worlds" short story.

I had done the same thing at ArmadilloCon in Austin in August, and produced "The Stinky Men" - which is currently in a slush pile. "The Quantum Gunman" flowed from a story idea I've had for a number of years, but otherwise didn't plan or outline the story in advance.

As I typed the story on my portable Smith Corona Classic 12, I would lay the pages out on the table in front of me. I started writing at 6 p.m. and Chris was among the many people who came by to read it as I progressed. I finished at 8:30 p.m. - I think the story is six pages long - and a little while later Chris stopped by again.

He finished reading it, said he enjoyed it, and asked what were my plans for it. I told him I'd try to get it published, and he offered to add to add it to Drink Tank 300. I handed it to him, and said "It's all yours." I think the process from beginning to acceptance took three hours.

Chris had to scan the manuscript, of course, to get it in Drink Tank 300. It takes up two pages, Pages 181 and 182. This special issues has a number of distinguished contributors, including John Scalzi and Greg Benford.

I'm happy to have helped with his gigantic project - Chris is a nice and humble guy. Anyone who saw his acceptance speech at the Hugos - in person or on video - knows that.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

No progress on the fiction front

The low grade cold that's being passed around everyone at work and at the schools - where my wife works - finally blew up on me Friday, and I really got sick. I got a sore throat and really bad congestion. I worked very sick Saturday, and slept almost 12 hours Saturday night, but the combination of rest, Diabetic Tussin, cough drops, nasal spray seems to have driven the cold back a lot, and I'm feeling better. Needless to say, no fiction writing accomplished.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New start

With all the publications I'm having, I need to write up some new tales, so I started tonight on my latest, "Digging on Olympus". It's a tale of some fellows who take advantage of the collapse of the federal government in the near future to dig up Montezuma's treasure on federal land - and get more than they bargained for.

I am typing this up on my portable typewriter. I got 3 1/2 pages done today, so it probably comes to 800 words.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Good news

I got my payment in the mail today from BuzzyMag for "The Centurion and the Rainman". They're very professional, the story isn't slated to be published until sometime next year, and they pay pro rates, by the SFWA's standard - five cents a word. Mucho gracias!

It looks like I will meet my goal of having eleven stories published by the end of the year. David and Mary Gray plan to publish a holiday-themed story, "Rockets and Reindeer" in 4 Star Stories' Winter issue. Bewildering Stories is slated to publish "Tell Gilgamesh I'm Sorry" on Dec. 12. And Chris Garcia says he working hard on Drink Tank 300 and it should be out soon. It will feature "The Quantum Gunman", the story I wrote on my portable typewriter in the gallery of the hotel during FenCon.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Latest issue of Alt Hist is out

Mark Lord at the ezine Alt Hist reports the latest issues has been published. The third issue of Alt Hist includes two stories about the American Civil War, one about the great Tesla, a tale of post-war revenge set in Dublin, and a compelling story about the early years of the space race.

Full list of stories and authors:

‘A Light in the Darkness’ by Ian Sales
‘Dublin Can Be Heaven’ by Séamus Sweeney
‘Riders on the Storm’ by Arlan Andrews
‘Bummers’ by Matthew Warner
‘To The Stars’ by Brooks Rexroat

You can buy a copy here from Smashwords.

If you want to buy it from Amazon for kindle, try here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Professional standards

I got an email from the SFWA this week. It was a reminder about voting in an ongoing election that continues until Dec. 15. The group wants to re-incorporate in California (from Massachusetts) and needs 2/3 of the membership to approve. I only became an Active member of the SFWA - with voting rights - on Oct. 22 after I presented my contract with Daily Science Fiction. It was my third sale that meets the SFWA standards for membership. I assume the voting started before my membership was upgraded, which is why I didn't get the original notice of the election. This leads me to think about those standards. For a short story writer, it's three sales at at least a nickel a word, with a magazine that been approved by the SFWA. Such venues have to have been in business a year. The standards used to cite circulation, but they have been changed now to allow ezines with a requisite number of page views. The dollar amount isn't important - I think there's a minimum payment of fifty dollars.

Although my sale to Jim Baen's Universe, "The Witch of Waxahachie", remains my most profitable sale (I got eight cents a word), the sale of "Dispatches From the Troubles" remains my second highest sale. Although GUD pays only three cents a word, "Dispatches" was a novelette, of over 11,000 words. Although it didn't count as a pro sale, it paid more than my sale of "A Rocket for the Republic" to Asimov's and "Great White Ship" to Daily Science Fiction because of the length.
The SFWA used to count sales at three cents a word as pro level up until 2003, then upped it to five cents. Now, here is what occurred to me - If that old standard still applied, I would have been able to get upgraded to an Active member of the SFWA almost two years earlier. I signed my contract with GUD on Nov. 4, 2009. I got the contract from Daily Science Fiction on Oct. 20, 2011. Perhaps easing up on the standard a bit might draw more people into the SFWA, or draw then in earlier, like myself. We're in the fourth year of a recession, it must be harder and harder to get members to join.
I don't see any reason why, in addition to keeping the nickel a word level, the SFWA couldn't add the provision that three cents a word is good if the sale is over $250.
Just some random thoughts. I asked that a hard copy of the incorporation referendum material be sent to me, and I got it in the mail today. I will sit down and read it over the weekend. I will see what's exactly in the bylaws about the membership requirements.

Friday, November 11, 2011

B'ois d'arc, Osage Orange, Hedge Apple..

Whatever you call it, this tree is interesting, because of its fruit. It has large, fleshy fruit with seeds inside - and there is no native North American animal that eats it. It is one of a handful of North American fruits - the avocado is another one - which are "orphaned" this way.

Some scientists think this is a result of the North American extinction event during the Pleistocene. It has been suggested it may have been eaten by the giant ground sloth that went extinct. Or perhaps mammoths or mastodons may have eaten it. Another suspect is the equine that went extinct - a theory reinforced because domestic horses introduced by the European settlers will eat the fruit, hence another name, Horse Apple.

When first found by explorers over 200 years ago, the trees' natural range was very restricted, essentially in the Red River Valley. It has subsequently spread, because the settlers found it is almost indestructible and impervious to disease and insects. The Plains Indians greatly valued it for its strength, and they would travel long distances to the Red River Valley to get the wood, hence the names B'ois D'arc (bow wood) or Osage Orange (from the Indian tribe.) Hedge Apple comes from its planting as fence rows by pioneers.

Now, MY theory - based upon the fact the trees were found along tributaries of the Red River (there is a B'ois D'arc Creek in Northeast Texas), and that is not the area you might find horses or mammoths (but yes, maybe sloths - don't mess up my theory with facts) is that the seeds were still being propagated by an almost extinct mammal...

Google the movie "The Legend of Boggy Creek" and the Fouke Monster to see what I mean.

I know there are a few of these trees here in Mount Pleasant, and this evening I happened to drive past one, so I stopped and loaded a plastic grocery bag of with a half dozen of this... Bigfoot Fruit.

I put some in the fridge, and I have one on my desk. Maybe it's time to write the story.

Coming in 2012

Received a copy of the final edit of my story "The Centurion and the Rainman" which will be published in Buzzy Mag next year. The new publication should be starting up soon after the first of the year. The edit was sharp and polished, by a very professional author. I'm quite pleased.

I'm happy to be on board with the new magazine. They also pay pro rates.

Combined with "Great White Ship" in Daily Science Fiction, it looks like I will have have some nice publications in the spring

"Tell Gilgamesh I'm Sorry"

I've received word from Dob Webb, editor at Bewildering Stories, that they will publish my short story "Tell Gilgamesh I'm Sorry" on Dec. 12. I've had eight stories published so far this year, so that would be my ninth. Right now "The Quantum Gunman" is with Chris Garcia, to be published in Drink Tank No. 300. I also have another story in a slush pile where, if it is accepted, it would be published by the end of the year. If Drink Tank comes out by the end of the year, that would be my tenth story published in 2011, which would match my previous record of 10 in 2005. If I manage one More before the end of the year, I'll have 11 in '11.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I got an email today from one of my three best friends in high school. I hadn't heard from him since about 1976. Turns out, he moved to California in 1980. I moved to Texas in 1985, and another high school chum moved to Florida about the same time, so we had all scattered. The fourth had moved to New Hampshire. I had seen him last year at my 35th high school reunion.

After exchanging emails with the fellow in California, I went to call my friend in Florida, whom I hadn't spoken to in maybe five or six years. I had lost his home address and you couldn't look him up. He was a lieutenant in the sheriff's department, and like so many people who work in law enforcement, he kept his home address and phone number confidential.

But I knew where he worked, so I called his office and asked for him. There was a long pause on the phone... and I knew something was wrong. Very wrong.

He had been on leave, and about to retire, when he had a fatal heart attack just a few days ago.

I emailed the fellow in California and called the guy in New Hampshire tonight, to give them the news.

I hoisted a pint of Fosters tonight in his memory, and I'm feeling very subdued.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The Z Word

I finished my essay on my relationship to the zombie sub-genre of horror, "The Z Word" on Sunday. Clocked in at about 1,700 words. I sent it off to the editor, still haven't received any acknowledgement it was received.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Better safe than sorry

I may sound like a wimp for turning around and skipping Contraflow when the low pressure indicator went on in my rental car Saturday morning, but some of you may recall that in the summer of 2009 I ignored some warning signs and pressed on driving from East Texas to Oklahoma City for SoonerCon and I blew my transmission.

I was stranded seven miles south of Henryetta, Oklahoma. I forgot to take my cell phone, and so I couldn't call for help. I found that that these days, because everyone has a cell phone, no one would stop and see if I needed help. After an hour a state trooper came by. By the time I was towed into Henryetta, it was past 5 p.m. and my car couldn't be fixed until Monday. Michael Moe was nice enough to drive out to Henryetta Saturday morning and bring me the rest of the way. On Sunday, Gorg Huff drove me and dropped me off in Dallas, where my mother-in-law lived.

I went back to Henryetta in October so sell the car for salvage. It was Columbus Day - which is a state holiday in Oklahoma but not Texas - and I couldn't transfer the title, so I gave it to the purchaser and told him he could send me the $100 when he got clear title. He actually did.

With all this in mind Saturday morning, I was very uncomfortable driving farther and father from home at like 4 a.m. with a warning light staring at me. Also, I had never driven from East Texas to New Orleans before, and I am completely unfamiliar with the route. Call me a chicken, I felt a lot better when I reached home.

Praise for "Music for Four Hands"

Shedrick Pittman-Hassert at his web site "Serial Distractions" has posted the following review of "Music for Four Hands":

Review: Music for Four Hands by Lou Antonelli and Edward Morris
Posted on November 5, 2011 by Shedrick

(I’ve been following Lou Antonelli’s career for the past couple of years now. He’s a frequent panelist at the various sci-fi cons that I get to attend in the area and always presents an interesting view of the business. His stories are unabashedly old-school and are usually interesting takes on alternate history set in the weirds and wilds of East Texas. In the chapbook Music For Four Hands, Antonelli teams with 2009 Rhysling award nominee Edward Morris on four intriguing science fiction tales set in alternate times, alternate worlds, and in our own backyard.

The collection opens with a piece that serves as an opening curtain on the show called, aptly, “The Scene is Set”. It is very evocative of the sights and smells of a dark carnival (ala Something Wicked This Way Comes). In hindsight, it doesn’t really gel with the tone of the more full-blown stories in the collection. Nevertheless, it is a gem in and of itself.

The first tale, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”, takes on an alternate history in which the late, under-appreciated comic Ernie Kovacs does not die in an automobile accident (while trying to light a cigar) in 1962 and how this fact affects the smoking industry and the unlikely livelihood of another historical figure. The story does a great job of invoking the time period and Kovac’s wit. The extrapolations from the pivotal event are interesting and unexpected. However the end comes rather abruptly and ultimately leaves it being the least satisfying of the four stories in the collection.

“Off the Hook” is another story involving a comedian who encounters something from the unknown. Jimmy Slade is a successful but cynical older comic who never really recovered from the early death of his talented former partner, Danny Deuce. After meeting a “Stranger” who could be Death himself literally knocking at his door, Slade makes a Faustian bargain to give Danny a second chance. A fine fantasy with a lot of heart.

“Acroscaphe” is a delightful story about first contact–and about how self-interest can literally (and figuratively) muddy the waters of cross-cultural understanding. It reads a bit like a drive-in movie directed by George Pal; a lot of fun and it’s central premise does a good job of capsizing your expectations.

The final story, “Stairway to Heaven”, is probably my favorite in the collection. A miserable small town newspaper editor in conservative East Texas meets a beautiful hippie chick who’s been missing since 1971. After several increasingly tense encounters, she gives him a chance to see how the other half lives. Sparkling dialog helps to make the characters pop from the page; it feels as if the authors had a lot of fun with this one and it translates well to the reader. The ending is satisfying and even a little wistful. A very strong finish to a good collection.

Music for Four Hands is a fine collection of original and entertaining tales. This a great book for whiling away a sunny afternoon. These are the kind of stories that brought me into science fiction as a kid–they not only make you think a little bit but, even more importantly, inspire you to daydream.


Very good review, and more importantly in my opinion, Shedrick "gets it" as far as where the stories are coming from, and where I'm coming from personally in my fiction.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Car returned

I don't know how seriously I should have taken that low tire pressure light, but really, at 4 a.m. in the dead of deepest, darkest, East Texas, I wasn't willing to take a chance.

The rental agency is not going to charge me anything, actually they would owe me money, since I gave them back a half tank of gas more than they gave me.

Hopefully, this will make them think to check cars better before sending them out. Unfortunately, there's only one car rental agency here.

Regrets to Contraflow

I had to shoot off this email this morning to Ray Boudreau and the folks at Contraflow:

Ray -
I'm terribly sorry, I have to beg out. My rental car developed a problem at 3:30 a.m. this morning that made me turn around and head home rather than break down in the middle of nowhere. There are long stretches of nothing between East Texas and New Orleans, and I was afraid of getting stranded.

I really appreciate the invite, and I'm sorry it didn't work out. but I've had some terrible experiences in the past with problems developing when I traveled out of town to conventions and I've turned into a big chicken.

Please keep me in mind for the future. I hope everything goes well this weekend.

Lou Antonelli


The problem was a warning light came on about the tire pressure, and I mean it when I say there are long stretches of absolute nothingness between here and New Orleans. I had no tire pressure gauge, and no way to air up any tires. If there was a flat, I can't change the tire (because of carpal tunnel syndrome). In the end the decision to turn around was made because, 1) My blood pressure was soaring over the nervousness and aggravation, and 2) my blood pressure is also soaring because I am irate at Enterprise Rent-a-Car. I rent cars to travel for peace of mind, and having a panic attack at 3:30 a.m. in Bigfoot Fart, East Texas, is not peace of mind. I didn't quite make it to the Louisiana state line before I tossed in the towel and turned around.

Oh, I guess I'm showing my age, but I can remember when you could look at a car tire and tell if it was getting low. In this case, the tires are so shallow that they look pre-flattened to me.

Then again, that may be why they have pressure indicators on the cars now.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Off to the slush pile

I took the flash I typed on the Sunday of FenCon, "Wet and Wild", and run it through OCR software so I could make a Word file of it. I might have subbed it as is - the way "The Stinky Men" is circulating (and Chris Garcia has "The Quantum Gunman" for Drink Tank) - but honestly the ribbon was getting too faint (it was the ribbon on the typewriter when I bought it, so God knows how old it was).

It's only 520 words. I sent it to Gordon at F&SF, since he looks at stuff and returns it quickly if he doesn't want it. I DID type the cover letter - since I've bought a new ribbon.

I expect I'll type a story while at Contraflow, too. Since my reading is the last thing I do, maybe I'll try what I did at ArmadilloCon and type an original story for the reading.

Ready to Contraflow

I will be in greater New Orleans Saturday and Sunday for Contraflow. Here are my panels:

Saturday 11 a.m. - How to Promote Yourself Online: So now that you are published how do you sell that work? Guests Lou Antonelli, Rob Cerio and Jeannie Holmes talk about how to promote yourself online.

Saturday 4 p.m. - Ebooks - Is this the future of publishing?: Is this the future of publishing- It seems today many are making the switch from print to digital formats, is the future of publishing? Come discuss with authors and publishers Lou Antonelli, Allen Gilbreath, Kim Richardson, and Toni Weisskopf.

Sunday 11 a.m. - The Importance of Place in Science Fiction & Fantasy: Regional authors Kurt Amaker, Lou Antonelli, Andrew Fox and Jeannie Holmes discuss how using regional settings influences writing in science fiction and fantasy. All of these author's works are set in the southern region from Texas to Mississippi.

My reading will be Sunday at 2 p.m. Since I am taking my portable typewriter, maybe I'll do what I did at ArmadilloCon and read a story I typed (I wasn't scheduled with a reading at the last con I attended, Con DFW.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

"The Z Word"

I've been invited to submit an essay on my opinion of the sub genre of zombie writing for a book, with special emphasis on writers delving into the subject of zombies. Considering that "Good News for the Dead" is the only zombie story I've ever written, I'd say I fit that bill.

Part of the pitch was "I'm only asking a few, select authors that I admire and read (like yourself) before asking more authors."

Well, I'm flattered.

"The stated goal is to release a quality but cheaply priced (99 cent eBook, break-even pricing if we go to print) to get it out there and get people interested in seeing what authors have to say about the sub genre, and also as a way to introduce you to fans who might not know you yet or are new to reading about zombies."

I'm good with that. I am working on the essay, which can be up to 2.500 words, this week. I already have the title, obviously, that line from "Good News" about "the Z Word."

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...