Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rejoining Mensa

Back in the mid-'80s I took the test and joined Mensa. I was a member for three years and then I let my membership expire in the spring of 1988. I just renewed my membership after 24 years. The members in East Texas are few and far between, but thanks to the internet I have access to another potentially useful resource.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Hearts Made of Stone" again

BTW, this will be my 72nd published story. The anticipated deadline for the anthology will be Dec. 1st, I don't know when it will be published.

Monday, August 27, 2012

"Hearts Made of Stone"

Last week I saw a posting at the SFWA forum, a call for submissions for an anthology to be called "Song Stories".  This caught my attention.  Over the years I've written a number of stories whose origins were prodded by a song. I did a rewrite on a story I've had sitting around for maybe a year, and sent it off Sunday. I got word today that the editor loved it, and he was taking it.

"Hearts Made of Stone" is another weird Texas tale, set in East Texas in 1955. The protagonist is a small town newspaper editor (any of this sound familiar?) I like it, and I'm glad I found it a good home.

Here is info from the publishers web site, in case you are interested in submitting:


Music is one of the fundamental experiences of the human condition.  Music has the power to calm or excite, to evoke the full spectrum of emotions as few other tools can.

A few simple lyrics backed by an earnest melody can tell an epic tale of tragedy or triumph.  That is, in part, where the idea for Song Stories came from.  For some of us, music is not just part of life, music IS life.  It permeates our waking thoughts and our dreams and often appears in our stories.

What songs remind you of your childhood? of high school or college?  Your first love and your first broken heart.  Now take those memories and wrap them in your imagination.  Give us your gripping horror, your mind blowing fantasy and your farsighted science fiction and transform those songs into something new.

Call for Submissions
Song Story Press is soliciting short story submissions for “Song Stories” An anthology of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror rooted in music.  Submissions will be accepted until December 1, 2012 or until the anthology is filled.

What We Want:
We are looking for fresh perspectives on favorite songs.  The story should have the following qualities
The story must be your own work.   Reprints are fine, provided you hold publishing rights
Multiple submissions are acceptable. Please do not submit more than 10k words at a time
No stories which are freely available online.
The plot should have a strong correlation to the lyrics of the song.  The writer can and should take creative liberties, but the reader should have a clear indication of the base song.  Include the song in  your cover letter.

Not required but strongly advised
The story should be science fiction, fantasy, horror or a related sub-genre
The atmosphere of the story should reflect either the style of music or the singer/composer
Story length may be up to 5000 words in length
Simultaneous submissions are okay, but please let us know immediately if you are accepted elsewhere.

We are looking for excellent cover artwork which captures the essence of the anthology.  We can pay up to $50 for cover art work.  Other artwork may be considered depending on the number of story submissions received.  Query for artwork using the contact page.
What we don't want
Boring literal interpretations of love songs
Porn – if sex is present, it should further the story
Gore or profanity when it is only included for shock value
Illegal content of any kind
Blatant plagiarism
The purpose of Song Stories is to celebrate the power of music. It is not the intention of this anthology to exceed fair use. Only the portions of the lyrics which are necessary to move the story forward should be used and their use should be transformative. For example:
Open Arms by Journey (Perry, Cain, et al)
Lying beside you, there in the dark, feeling your heart beat with mine
Lying beside you...
Terrance smiled when he awoke and found Abigail still sleeping, the morning sun still hidden beneath the horizon. He pressed his chest against hers painfully aware that the challenges of the new day might end the synchronicity of their hearts.
A unique paranormal/alternate tech/fantastical narrative that evokes the essence of the song, while sparingly using key words or phrases to emphasize the connection.

What You Get
Your story will appear in a carefully edited, aggressively marketed anthology.

At this point, we can’t afford to pay top dollar.  Every author will get a contributor’s copy of the eBook and a proportional percentage of the royalties

For published pieces we take First Print and Electronic Publishing Rights. Bear in mind that most publications will not publish pieces that have been published in print, eBook, or on the web, so for all intents and purposes after your work is published by us it can only be marketed as a reprint, which severely limits the number of markets that will accept it, and drastically reduces the pay rate it can receive. It is up to you, the author, to decide if publishing your work in print and eBook formats, giving up your First Publishing Right for royalties only, is really what you want to do.

A print version of the book will be made available shortly after the eBook release.  Copies will be made available to contributors at cost.

No significant alterations will be made to the accepted stories without express approval of the author

How to Submit
Submissions will only be accepted via the  online submission form  If you have any questions, please contact us.

Depending of the volume of submissions, we will try to respond within a few days whether we will pass on your story or hold it for further consideration.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"The Way of the Heretic"

Got word a couple of days ago from David Gray at 4 Star Stories that they will publish my short story "The Way of the Heretic" in their fall issue, which will probably come out in about a month. This will be my tenth story published this year, and my 71st since 2003.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Second great review in two days

Lyn McConchie has reviewed  Science Fiction Trails No. 8 at her web site. Here's what she said about "Pirates of the Ozarks".

"The SF Trails anthologies are ‘weird western’ stories and the editor has been building an excellent stable of writers in this sub–genre for quite a few years now. (And yes, one of them is me but not in this issue so I feel free to say that and do a review.) General comments – excellent editing, and the cover is dynamic and eye-catching.

"This issue starts out with Lou Antonelli’s Pirates of the Ozarks. I found the story interesting on three levels. It’s a rip-roaring tale of derring-do, it also quietly sneaks in a number of genuine names from history, and finally, while I can’t be certain, I think that geographically the idea of a huge inland sea, just where Lou has one for the purposes of the story, is correct. That makes it three for three and I loved the story."

Monday, August 20, 2012

An appreciation for "Great White Ship"

The web site Diabolical Plots ("From Inspiration to Ink") posted an entry today reviewing all the May stories for Daily Science Fiction. They were very praiseworthy of "Great White Ship":


“Great White Ship” by Lou Antonelli (debut 5/11 and reviewed by James Hanzelka).

A traveler stuck waiting for a flight strikes up a conversation with an old airline employee. The Old Timer tells him a story of a Great White Airship that arrives from a most unusual destination. The story of a craft from an alternate reality and how it got there is only the precursor to the final act.

This is one of my favorite stories from this site. I have a great passion for lighter-than-air craft and their potential as a future means of transport, which opens the story. The author uses this speculation to launch into an engaging tale. As fascinating as the main story line is, the alternate history premise that accompanies it is just as worthwhile. This story was well written and very well thought out. It is well worth the read.



Well, what can I say? I liked it, too.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review for Science Fiction Trails No. 8

The current issue of Science Fiction Trails received a positive review from Don D'Amassa on his web site, Critical Mass. To quote:

"Although the genre magazine era has pretty much passed, there are still a handful of interesting titles appearing for those who are willing to look for them. The first of these is thematically consistent, science fiction stories with settings in the Old West. It’s attractively packaged and very readable. Several of the stories this time involve alternate histories. Lou Antonelli and James Wymore have the most interesting contributions..."

To visit the web site, go this-a-way:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

"The Shining Crescent"

I finished a 3,200 word short story, "The Shining Crescent", on Wednesday and sent it to a contest that had an Aug. 15 deadline. I got an auto-reply so I know I made it into the slush pile. The magazine promises a response by the end of the month. If I don't get the nod, I will shop it among the usual suspects.

"The Shining Crescent" is a bit different for me because all but one scene is set in the Middle East, and the protagonist is an Arab-American. But the story flowed naturally from the premise of the contest theme.

It is my 106th short story written in a little less than ten years/

Friday, August 17, 2012

The arrival of the green

People who know me know I am a great fan of Bic orange fine points. Problem is, they haven't been sold in the U.S. since 1995. But a few years ago I ordered 20 black pens from a British technical supply company that was willing to sell them. I added them to my collection old original American pens (I still have four old versions of the pen that still work, they can be distinguished by the fact they have an air hole mid-way up the barrel.

 Last year I picked up a dozen pens in a pack - four blacks, four reds and four blues - from a seller based in South Korea. That gave me the three basic colors of black and blue and red. UT Bic also makes a green ink pen. Problem is their distribution seems to the most restricted of all.

But last month I did a Google search and found a stationery store in Ireland - D&L Stationery in Tiperarry - that would sell and ship me the pens. Today I got the mailing tube with the 20 green pens inside. I've committed to send Rhonda Eudaly a pen so she also has a complete set. She's actually a pen maven, I just happen to like this one type.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Latest story

For a guy who wants to work on a book, I get easily distracted. On Aug. 5 I got an email about a particular contest that closes Aug. 15. The theme seemed to be a good fit for me (which is why I think it was brought to my attention). I spent last week thinking on a potential subject, and started writing Sunday. I finished the story tonight, at 3,200 words. I will proof it tomorrow and the drop it the slush pile by the end of the day. I actually think it kind of worked out well, it almost reminds me of "Double Exposure" in being tight and all hanging together.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Latest acceptance

Ed Morris, a chum and collaborator, is the online editor for Phantasmagorium magazine's weekly on-line edition. I submitted a story and he's given it the thumbs up, describing "Damascus Interrupted" as "an odd, bloodthirsty little alternate-history tale."

Which is actually a pretty accurate description.

This will make an even 70 stories published, and nine for 2012.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Some stats

Following up on my most recent post, "Barsoom Billy" is not only my most recent sale but my most recent story, I finished it in June. It is my 105th short story I have written in 10 years, and my 69th published since 2003.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Science Fiction Trails double-play

I received my authors' copies of both 2012 issues of Science Fiction Trails in the mail today. Science Fiction Trails No. 8 is the regular issue, while Science Fiction Trails No. 9 is the All Martian Spectacular. My story "Pirates of the Ozarks" leads off No. 8 while "Barsoom Billy" closes out No. 9. I'm very proud of both stories. Here, my lovely wife holds up the magazines. You can order either No. 8 or No. 9 from Amazon.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Society for the Advancement of Speculative Storytelling (SASS)

Received good news yesterday that the new writers' group is formally incorporated.

From a letter dated 7/31/2012 from the Office of the Secretary of State of Texas...

"It has been our pleasure to file the certificate of formation and issue the enclosed certificate of filing evidencing the existence of the newly created nonprofit corporation..."
And, as of 7/30/2012...
"The undersigned, as Secretary of State of Texas, hereby certifies that a Certificate of Formation for the above named Domestic Nonprofit Corporation (The Society for the Advancement of Speculative Storytelling, Inc., File Number: 801633398) has been received in this office and has been found to conform to the applicable provisions of law.
Accordingly, the undersigned, as Secretary of State, and by virtue of the authority vested in the secretary by law, hereby issues this certificate evidencing filing effective on the date shown below (7/30/2012)."
So as of 7/30/2012, SASS officially exists...

We will need to get a mailing address and start taking actual membership applications.

In case you are not familiar with SASS, here's the statement of purpose from the incorporation application:

The Society for the Advancement of Speculative Storytelling, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging and mentoring aspiring and new writers of speculative fiction. In so doing, its activities shall include, but not be limited to, keeping its members informed of issues within the field, providing avenues of constructive critique and collegial discussion for its members, and encouraging interest and appreciation for all aspects of speculative fiction in multiple media.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Close, but no cigar

I guess one of the frustrations that comes with being a good genre writer, but not a great genre writer (although I like to flatter myself and think that at my best I have the proverbial "flashes of greatness") is that you sometimes get those "Oh, dude, you were so close!" rejections.

Yesterday was noteworthy because I got two of them.

One said "Yours is one of only a select few stories that made it to the final round of our decision-making process. Unfortunately we do not have room for your story in our upcoming issue. All the editors at (redacted) enjoyed your story and we encourage you to try us again."

The other said, "We have decided to pass on your story. We apologize for the delay in our response. Your story made it into our final round of reading." The editor then went on to solicit a submission for a related publication. adding they would be "excited" if I submitted something there.

Well, if I was a real pro - meaning I lived off my genre writing - I might be concerned. As it is, I'm a casual writer, with a regular full-time job, and I really don't spend a lot of time at the genre writing. It's hard to believe I've had 67 stories published in the past nine years, because honestly, I write very sporadically. For example, I think my production during the past two months is probably less than 4,000 words. So I am flattered by these responses. Since my regular job is as a writer (journalist), I still write every day, so I don't have a problem with getting rusty.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

No way to treat a lady

Readercon, a very well-regarded annual convention with a strong literary bent, met July 15-17 in Framingham, Massachusetts. I know a number of people who attended, including Howard Waldrop. While at the convention, author Genevieve Valentine was sexually harassed by a prominent fan, later identified as Rene Walling (I had to look up this mook's picture, because honestly I can't tell from the name if this was a man or a woman, and these days you get sexual harassment among the same gender - I was the subject of a groping from a male employee at a newspaper 20 years ago).

Apparently, Valentine went back home and wrote up her experience, and then filed a formal complaint against Walling with the convention board of directors. Then things went south. Walling didn't deny the facts, and was penitent - as you see from Valentine's post, he tried to approach her at the con and tried to apologize to here then. But at that point, Valentine didn't want to have anything to do with him, and he should have backed off.

The problem with the way the con handled Valentine's complaint is that it had a zero tolerance on sexual harassment, but instead of following its own stated policy of banning the miscreant for life, they announced that Walling was banned for two years. When it was announced, in places such as on Locus on-line, a firestorm erupted.

Now, you can argue about the wisdom of zero tolerance policies in general. My experience is that zero tolerance policies get implemented when people complain about how discipline is handled and the powers that be in whatever organization we are dealing with decide they can't deal with the bitching and decide its easier to treat everyone the same however harshly that may be. The problem is that when a policy is not subject to appeal or mitigation you will discover you forgot a lot of complications and loose ends.

Discipline is a big issue in public schools, and that is really where zero tolerance took hold. School administrators got tired of getting griped at by parents. But zero tolerance can have some stupid consequences. For examples, many schools have a zero tolerance policy on fighting regardless of who started the fight. As a journalist, I can attest to many cases where one kid starts to whip up on another kid without provocation, and the second kid fights back to defend himself. I have seen cases where, even when there were witnesses who attest to the fact there was a definite victim and aggressor, the school disciplined both. The zero tolerance policy means the victim was supposed to run away and find a teacher. I'm sorry, but if someone punches me in the face, going to find a teacher is NOT my first thought.

In a related case, a student borrowed his big brother's car to drive to high school, and following a sweep of the cars in the parking lot, the school administration found a can of beer in the back seat. Even though both the father and older brother backed up the student's story, it didn't matter - alcohol was found in a student's vehicle - and he was sent to in-school suspension.

Closer to home, while serving as a public school board member almost 20 years ago, while we were considering a zero tolerance policy on weapons in school, I pointed to the provision that said a student would be automatically expelled if a weapon was found in his locker. I pointed out that, as written, if someone slipped a knife through a vent in a student's locker, and then gave the school administration an "anonymous tip" to search the locker, the student would be expelled. In fact, I pointed out to my fellow board members that since there were no qualifications in the policy, if a student was being expelled and was being marched down the hallway towards the front door, if that student deftly slipped a knife through an air vent into someone's locker as he walked past, that owner of that locker would have to be expelled.

The board members agreed there needed to be some culpability added to the policy.

Getting back to the Readercon fiasco, there can be a lot of second guessing on the subject. Was Mr. Walling drunk? Should Ms. Valentine simply slugged the pig in the con hallway? In the case I mentioned earlier, where a fellow employee grabbed me as we passed in a hallway, I turned to him on the spot, looked him in the eye, and said, "If you ever do that to me again, I will kill you." And I meant it, and that was the end of that. But I am a blunt guy, and I think that's not as direct an approach as some people would take.

You can debate the merits of a zero tolerance policy, but the Readercon policy at the time Valentine made her complaint was clear - expelled from the con for life (Walling admitted the facts) - and when the board of directors announced their decision, it provoked an uproar. My first reaction when it erupted was it would turn out to be another typical genre PC-shit storm - that's what most internet-based disputes are in the genre. But after reading up, I agree that the con board make a mistake of ad hoc amending their own bylaws because the guy was sorry and asked for forgiveness.

There are many people who go through the criminal justice system every day who are sorry for what they did. That doesn't affect the verdict. Now the sentence might vary, but that is at the discretion of the judge and the jury except when there is mandatory sentencing. In this case, there was a mandatory sentence, and the con board didn't follow it, which struck many people are inconsistent and unfair - including me.

After pondering the error of their ways, apparently the board of directors resigned and the whole convention board stepped in and set things right, as outlined in this report issued today.

A painful lesson, with a couple of final observations on my part. If someone's sexual harassment at a convention is so egregious, you probably need to call the police. Going back to the issue of school discipline I mentioned above, there are times when a student assault in a school rises to the level of a police response. Parents are usually asked to sign a waiver stating they allow their child to be under the discipline of the school, but this cannot be mandatory. I know of a case where one student's parent did not sign the waiver, but the school administration didn't think much of it because the student was a top scholar and never a problem. But one day some thug punched out the A student, and after the student called his father on a cell phone, dad called the police and reported the assault.

The police said, "the school has the authority to handle its own students' discipline" but the dad said "I never gave them that authority", because he never signed the waiver. After a quick check, both the school and the police realized dad was right, and since the facts of the assault were not disputed, the youthful thug was trotted off to juvenile jail.

I think any con - not just Readercon - should call the cops when someone is sexually harassed. This is too serious a matter to be handled by a bunch of amateurs.

And my final thought: The Readercon board wasn't doing Mr. Walling a favor by being lenient. Following the original decision, other people people stepped forward and revealed similar incidents. One of the, Kate Kligman, is specifically mentioned in the final report. If the Readercon board had followed its own policy at the time, this might not have come to light, or at least, not at this time.

If he had been smart, Walling should have voluntarily absconded and hoped his other misdeeds never came to light. Now, his reputation is atrocious. As I said way back near the start of my post, I never heard of the guy and didn't even know if he was a man or woman.

I know many policemen who say they've been thanked later by people they pulled over and arrested for DWI, when the person sobered up and told them "you probably saved my life." President George Bush has publicly said he didn't take his drinking in college seriously until he was cited two separate times for DWI. It made him realize he had a problem.

Being lenient sometimes is not the best solution, and hopefully Mr. Walling will learn a lesson from his public embarrassment, and people will feel safe at Readercon, and other cons, from being groped and grasped and harassed.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Eat more chikin'

My wife and I visited the mall in Texarkana Wednesday night. Here, I sit down to a tasty dinner.

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...