Thursday, February 28, 2013

"The Clock Struck None"

Ian Randall Strock says he likes "The Clock Struck None" so he will publish it; his company is called Gray Rabbit Publications, which publishes s-f under the Fantastic Books imprint. Warren Lapine published "Fantastic Texas" in 2009 with Fantastic Books; he later sold it to Ian, who sent me the contract last night.

I'm signing the contract and getting ready to write the introductions to the 25 stories. Here's the Table of Contents:

Table of Contents – The Clock Struck None
1. Great White Ship
2. The Centurion and the Rainman
3. The Amerikaan Way
4. Meet Me at the Grassy Knoll
5. Double Exposure
6. Across the Plains
7. The Relic
8. Damascus Interrupted
9. Twilight on the Finger Lakes
10. The Goddess of Bleecker Street
11. The Starship Theodora
12. The Dragon’s Black Box
13. Tell Gilgamesh I’m Sorry
14. Re-Opening Night
15. The Hideaway
16. Airy Chick
17. Pirates of the Ozarks
18. Barsoom Billy
19. Ladybug, Ladybug
20. Black Hats and Blackberrys
21. Mak Siccar
22. The Quantum Gunman
23. Encounter in Camelot
24. My Ugly Little Self
25. Insight

Scott Cupp of San Antonio has agreed to write the foreword. Thanks, Scott!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Raygun Chronicles

I want to essentially turn my blog today over to a good cause, the kickstarter campaign for the anthology Raygun Chronicles planned for publication later this year by Every Day Press. Editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt asked me if he could reprint "The Silver Dollar Saucer"; it was originally published in Ray Gun Revival in Jan. 2009.

There are eleven days left in the kickstarter campaign, and it is only at 42 percent of its goal of $8,000, so it's time to crank up the volume. Bryan send out a message via Facebook this weekend, and it bears repeating:
Friends & Family: I need your help. Since I was a kid, I fell in love with space opera old style and that's why I wrote THE WORKER PRINCE, which got Year's Best Mention from Paul Goat Allen at B&N, and why I have remained a fan of Firefly, Star Wars, Star Trek, Farscape, Space: 1999, etc. all my life. But RAYGUN CHRONICLES, my project to bring back that kind of fun stories needs help. We have amazing talent involved. Big name pros like Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith, Seanan McGuire, Robin Wayne Bailey, Brenda Cooper, Allen Steele, Mike Resnick, and Ann Crispin, and established talents like Michael Merriam, Peter Wacks and Author Lou Antonelli. But what we don't have is funding. We have $2830 in 4 weeks from 137 awesome people. We have amazing artwork, amazing t-shirts and rewards, but if we don't hit $8000 in 13 days, none of it happens. Projects like this are passion projects but also have opened doors for me as a professional to make a living and recover from my financial and life crises of the past four years, so I'm asking you to kindly take a look and think of someone you know, yourself or a friend, who would enjoy this, then back it and spread the word. For as little as $5 you can get the book. But it won't happen without you. If it doesn't fund, I won't have time to mount another for release this year either. So we need your support, and I hope you'll consider it. Thanks much, Bryan
If you're turned off by the run-of-the-mill dystopian crap* that dominates s-f today, here is an opportunity to vote with little green ballots and strike a blow for true forward-looking fiction. The kickstarter web page can be found here.

* "The future's gonna suck and you do, too."

Friday, February 22, 2013

ConDFW notes

As opposed to traveling by air to Colorado Springs the previous weekend, getting to ConDFW only takes me a two hours drive from my home in East Texas. I got there Saturday morning in time for my signing at 10 a.m. Martha Wells and I shared the table. I reminded Martha I first met here at the first ConDFW I ever attended, in 2003 (which was the first con I ever attended). She said she remembered.

Then I had a reading at noon, with the hour slot shared with Paul Black and Chris Donahue. Despite cramming three authors in only an hour, it went well. Each of us had a very different type of story; Paul's was somewhat cyberpunk, Chris' was s-f horror, and I read the 12 pages of the story I started at GalaxyFest, "On a Spiritual Plain".

At 2 p.m. I was on the panel, moderated by Jo Walton, on alternate history. Jayme Blaschke was also on that one We were a very learned bunch to address that subject, and the many members of the audience got a very good pile of information and anecdotes.

I visited the con suite and dealers room later in the afternoon, but then - as I noted in  a previous post - traveled to Cedar Hill and visited with an old friend who was on hospice (she passed away early Wednesday morning.) I lived in Cedar Hill from 1988 to 2001 - the longest I ever lived in one city - and I frequented some of the old haunts. I ate dinner Saturday night at the Dairy Queen and had breakfast Sunday morning at the Burgers 'n More Cafe. I stayed at the Ramada Limited motel overnight.

My two panels Sunday were one after another. We had tons of fun at the Interstellar Archeology panel at 1 p.m. which had a full crew with Moderator Mel White, Jayme Blaschke, S. Boyd Taylor, Rick Gonyo, and Gloria Oliver. I think the highlight for me - maybe for everyone - was when my interpretation of an alien artifact was that it was a trombone and I stood up and played what I think was a fairly respectable rendition of Tommy Dorsey's "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You".

I was the moderator for the 4 Stars Stories panel at 2, which had a full complement of authors - Rhonda Eudaly, William Ledbetter, Ethan Nahte, Gloria Oliver, Selina Rosen - as well as David and Mary Gray. That panel also went very well, and although at that point the audience was dwindling, everyone had a great time.

I was back on the road by 5 p.m. and back in Mount Pleasant by 7 p.m. That was my last convention or conference until the DFW Writers Conference in May.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Back from ConDFW

ConDFW went very well this past weekend. All my panels were well attended and enjoyable for both the audience and panelists. I sold a few books during my signing, and I also had people come up to me and ask me to sign their books.

I spent Saturday night in the suburb of Cedar Hill. I lived there from 1988 until 2001, and worked at two different weekly newspapers. A woman who once worked for me as a part-time receptionist was on hospice care and I took the opportunity to say good-bye. She passed away this morning.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My ConDFW schedule

ConDFW in Dallas is this weekend. Here is my schedule:


10 am: Lou Antonelli, Martha Wells

Reading (Trinity VIII)

12 pm: Lou Antonelli, Paul Black

Main Programming (Trinity V)

2 pm: Tweaking Reality: How to Alter History Believably
Panelists: Candace Havens (M), Jo Walton, Taylor Anderson, Lou Antonelli, Jayme Lynn Blaschke

When you read most alternate history stories, there are major changes in the timeline. The First World War is still going in 1939, for instance, or the Civil War doesn’t end. But you can’t just say “The Civil War doesn’t end” and expect people to believe you. Sometimes it is the small changes at key times that herald alternate history – and our experts tell you how to sell small changes to your readers so they stick around for the ride.

Programming 2 (Chinaberry)

1 pm: Interstellar Archaeology: Part Two – The Debunking
Panelists: Mel White (M), Jayme Lynn Blaschke, Lou Antonelli, S. Boyd Taylor, Rick Gonyo, Gloria Oliver

The second of two panels where we inflict discover startling artifacts of OBVIOUS alien origin. Our experts tell us how wrong the previous esteemed panelists were! Last year, Sunday’s panel thoroughly debunked Friday’s experts. Come see if the same holds true this year!

Programming 3 (Trinity VII)

2 pm: 4 Star Stories Symposium
Panelists: Lou Antonelli (M), Mary Gearhart-Gray, David L. Gray, Rhonda Eudaly, William Ledbetter, Ethan Nahte, Gloria Oliver, Selina Rosen

When we heard about 4 Star Stories we knew we had to bring some of the contributors together to explain what they have done. Come see what a group of fellow authors, artists and editors have accomplished!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

GalaxyFest diary

Overall, I had a good time at GalaxyFest in Colorado Springs this past weekend. There were a few bumps along the way, but the positive for me vastly outweighed the bad.

I've never participated in a con in Colorado or visited Colorado Springs, so when I got the invite I decided to make the trek. I had wanted to attend last year - which was its first outing - but something intervened and I couldn't make it. I appreciate they extended me an invite again.

I flew out of Texarkana and arrived at the con by 10 a.m. Saturday. They set up a table for me in a hallway and so I had my own base of operations for the weekend. The literary interest among those attending seemed minimal; I saw very few people buying books, and I sold only one myself. This seemed to be very fan-oriented; I think a majority of participants were in costume. That's not to denigrate the con; the attendance was surprisingly large and sometimes the hallways were teeming. I know from chatting briefly with hotel management they were VERY appreciative to the con for bringing in such a large crowd in the dead of winter.

During my free time I used my manual typewriter to start my next story, "On a Spiritual Plain" (that's not a typo) and by the end of the con I had 12 pages. BTW, this was the first time I took the Smith Corona Classic 12 with me on a plane, as my personal carry-on.

The only person I knew previously from Colorado Springs was Sarah Hoyt, and it was nice to meet her again, as well to meet her husband Dan and son Marshall. We were all various panels together. I also had an opportunity to meet David Howe and Sam Stone, and Kevin Anderson and Rebecca Moesta, and again, serve with them on panels.

I served with David Wacks and Peter Wacks on panels, also, and they also helped me as members of the con committee.

I served on two panels Saturday, "Rehash or New Mash" followed by "I turned around the corner and walked into a panel" in the next hour.

The rehash panel was very good, as we went over plots and themes in fiction. I can't recall who was with me on each individual panel, they sort of ran together. The panel on panels got messed up because there was a panel on zombies next door, and the moderator thought the crowd at 9 p.m. was too small for his ego, so he and the people who were there at the time came over and suggested the two panels be combined.

He also took over both panels and ran it like a dog and pony show. If he had waited, he probably would have had enough people for the zombie panel, because ultimately the majority of people who sat in were probably there for the zombies.

So I get stuck on a panel on zombies. I wasn't pleased to say the least. but then I remembered my story "Good News for the Dead" and realized I might actually have something to contribute.

So when it comes my turn on the panel, I open "Texas & Other Panels" so I could read the very ending of the story - and the blowhard cuts me off, and says we don't have time.

Of course, I got real mad real fast, and then said "It was only three words." Then the blowhard, realized how rude he was, asked me if I would continue. What he didn't know was my three words for him were, "Fuck you, buddy!"

Then, continuing to display an unfortunately too typical lack of social skills, he kept prodding me, until I said, "No, that's what you get for interrupting people."

After maybe a half hour my blood pressure dropped and towards the end I contributed somewhat to both part of this messed up panel. But this obviously was the low point of the convention.

I later told David Wacks they need to have a rule about combining panels and/or hijacking panels. I've seen panels where someone hogged the mike, or did something else stupid (like spending most of the time texting), but this was a new one for me.

I was on three panels Sunday, "Writing Organizations" - where I used the opportunity to tout SASS -, "Geezers of Geekdom" and "Science vs. SciFi". The last one was held at 4 p.m. and still had 25 people in the audience - very impressive. A British actor named Colin Spaull was on the Geezer panel; he was very nice, and I think he said he's the only actor who's been on both the old and new versions of Dr. Who.

I was impressed with the fact some Brits - like Spaull, David Howe and Sam Stone - would schlep all the way from the U.K. for the con.

There wasn't a con suite, per se,. but instead a VIP suite. There wasn't much food preparation going on, but so long as they kept the pizza coming, everyone was happy.

The con committee members were all very helpful and pleasant; they were spread pretty thin, but hey, it's a volunteer-run event. Monday morning one of them was nice enough to shuttle me and another guest to the airport.

I got back to Mount Pleasant by 3 p.m.

I have previously mentioned the view of Pikes Peak and the interview with Claudia Christian. Overall, it was a great con for me, and I'm glad I went.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"Babylon Confidential" interview

I had a nice interview with Claudia Christian at GalaxyFest in Colorado Springs Sunday morning. We spent maybe 15-20 minutes chatting in the Dealer's Room before it opened. My purpose was to get more background for the review I am planning for her book, "Babylon Confidential". She was very nice and unaffected.

We asked a bystander to take a photo. After Claudia looked at it on the camera, she said it was very good, but then asked if I would like to be closer to her (I suppose that's what fans do.) I told her if I got any closer to her and my wife saw it, I'd be sleeping in the tool shed for a week.

That cracked her up.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Back from GalaxyFest

Left Colorado Springs this morning and arrived back in East Texas this afternoon. Enjoyed spending the weekend at GakaxyFest. Overall, a positive experience. This was the view from my room at the Antlers Hilton of Pike's P:eak.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

DDOS and a MESS and SASS

Reposted from my Facebook page from Wednesday night:

The web site for the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) has been down most of the day because of a cyber-attack. The interruption apparently commenced at 10 a.m. and the site has been up and down all day The attack is called a DDOS, which I had to look up. The best explanation I read said "DDOS, short for Distributed Denial of Service, is a type of DOS attack where multiple compromised systems -- which are usually infected with a Trojan -- are used to target a single system causing a Denial of Service (DoS) attack."

The SFWA is in the process of having its annual election, and there has been some real viciousness in its forums. An officer stepped in a couple of days ago to moderate the forums, and things quieted down considerably - and then this attack happened.

Most people would assume the two things are related. I really don't know, or care. After I launched my campaign for vice president last year, and saw the way I was attacked, I stopped campaigning and helped organize a new writers group (although I remain a member of the SFWA).

SASS (Society for the Advancement of Speculative Storytelling) fills in the middle ground between people who are fans and readers, and hard-boiled pros who make (or want to make) their living as writers. It's a nice for someone like me, who has a day job.

One thing I'm proud of is SASS - which has its own Facebook page - takes a lesson from fraternal groups (such as the Masons) and specifically prohibits internal discussions of religion or politics. That way people of all faiths and political backgrounds have a neutral common ground where they can learn and encourage each other in writing and appreciating speculative storytelling.


I shared the post with all the interim officers of SASS. Dario's comment on his own page is worthy of repeating:

Dario Ciriello: Lou, I was honoured to be invited last summer to be interim Chairman of the new SASS until (now imminent) board elections, when I will step down, and I accepted the post precisely *because* SASS expressly disavows political or religious agendas and prohibits members from doing so under its auspices. As I've frequently stated, I abhor intolerance, incivility, and proselytizing of every kind.

Even as an atheist with some ultra-liberal leanings I'm frankly amazed that everyone that happens to hail from Texas or who has strong religious views--as many of my own good friends do--is vilified by certain people in the SFF community, as was the case in this recent Tweet (names omitted, publicly searchable): "...too bad SASS never got off the ground--it'd be a great resource for identifying the racist a-holes in SFF."

Wow, sounds like someone's creating an enemies list, doesn't it? This sort of thing has disgusted me since my first Worldcon, when I saw Larry Niven booed and hissed by half the audience on a panel for simply making a rather mild joke. Intolerance, rudeness, and ad hominems disgust me whether from the far right or far left. A plague on ALL their houses.

Well, I think it's great that SASS *is* getting off the ground. A neutral, safe forum for fans, readers, and new, non-pro writers is both needed and doesn't threaten any existing organizations. Power to you, Lou.

In the immortal words of Rodney King, "Why can't we all get along?"

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

"Babylon Confidential"

With the GalaxyFest convention in Colorado Springs coming up this weekend, I am reading Claudia Christian's autobiography "Babylon Confidential". I was offered a review copy a few weeks ago, and with Christian being the celebrity guest, I saw the opportunity to interview her a part of a book review.

Last night I read two-thirds of the book, settled in an armchair in the living under a floor lamp that I basically bought just for when I read. It's a very interesting book, very well-written, and I've enjoyed it so far. I'm sure I can polish off the rest of it before I leave for Colorado Springs.

The convention gave me a schedule this past weekend, but I had to send it back with a request for some modifications. I'm working Friday and then flying out of Texarkana; I will be arriving in Colorado Springs too late to participate in anything Friday. The first stab at a schedule had me on two panels Friday night. I brought  that problem to the convention's attention and made some suggestions for my participation based on panels I read for Saturday and Sunday.

Cons like this are run by fan volunteers, bless their little geeky hearts, and I could never get mad when someone is working so hard for something they love and for no pay.

The con did get back to me and said they will work on it. Once I have a final schedule, I will be able to set a time to sit down and interview Ms. Christian. I'm sure the interview and review will make a good story for a weekend entertainment page.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

"Uncle Gumball Saves the World"

Over at the Planetary Stories web site, Shelby Vick has published in the February issue of his ezine "Pulp Spirit" the collaboration between myself and Ed Morris, "Uncle Gumball Saves the World". This is the fifth time Ed and I have thoroughly collaborated on a story (He's given me author's credit on a story named "Eva" that was published years ago in Neometropolis, but really I only did the outline, he had to write it because something intervened in my life.

"Uncle Gumball" originated with me, but this is a true collaboration. Ed's help was especially vital because of my unfamiliarity with "wired" culture. I think it the story comes off well, and I am somewhat surprised it took as long as it did to find a home (six and a half years).

As you might suppose, "Chimp Latin" is the Maguffin that initially led to the idea, but the story took on a life of its own, especially as we developed the background of the retired children's show host.

Of course, anyone who grew up in the Dallas area will recall Mr. Peppermint. This is one of those stories that takes off from a fictitious/alternate history contemporary of a real character.

And here is a link:

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Two cons coming up

This is my last weekend in a while when I will be in town; I am traveling next weekend to Colorado Springs to the GalaxyFest convention, and the weekend after that is ConDFW in Dallas. This particular ConDFW will mark the tenth anniversary of my first visit. ConDFW in 2003 was the first s-f convention I ever attended; I didn't know s-f conventions even existed before then.

I went years as an s-f reader without knowing there was an s-f fandom; I suppose because I didn't know any  fans (since I moved to Texas in 1985) and never ran across any. There aren't many in journalism. The only reason I learned about ConDFW in 2003 was because someone sent a news release out, and it crossed my desk at the newspaper where I worked then. In fact, I attended on a press pass.

I was flabbergasted by all the information I picked up from panels, and at the very last panel I learned from Jayme Blaschke about Revolution SF. I asked him if I could send him a story. When he published "Silvern" that June, this was his intro:

"New writer Lou Antonelli isn't really a new writer at all. A longtime newspaper editor and reporter with multiple awards from Texas Press Association in editorial, column, and feature writing, Antonelli has recently turned his hand to science fiction with impressive results, as evidenced by the following story."

The story is still archived on-line. It had a nice piece of art, too, which I've included here (The Maguffin is a silver dollar.)

My second story published in, "Silence is Golden", was published in August 2003 and was the first story of mine to receive a Honorable Mention in Gardner Dozois' annual anthology. I sold Gardner "A Rocket for the Republic" the following spring/

I think I've been able to attend at least some portion of ConDFW ever since.

This will be the first time I've attended GalaxyFest. I wanted to go last year, but health and other plans intervened ( in general, I don't like to attend cons only a week apart, it's a physical strain). They asked me again this year, and this time I was able to swing it.

I'm looking forward to getting the panel schedules for both cons soon.

Whatever happened to that old Sunbelt?

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