Monday, December 29, 2014

Reminder of a spy

I saw the movie "The Imitation Game" Sunday. It's a very good flick. The mention of the British Cold War spies, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, reminded me that a number of years ago Maclean's younger sister, Nancy Jean, lived in Cedar Hill, Texas, where I ran the local weekly paper, and I knew her pretty well. In fact, she once gave me a memoir to read and appraise, but unfortunately it disappeared when a break-in at a self-storage unit resulted in the theft of a table where the document was stored.

Nancy Jean Oetking ended her days in Texas because she married a petroleum engineer. She died in 2007, aged 88.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Thoughts on Christmas Eve

I've always thought I may be somewhat dyslexic. When I was a kid, they never heard of it, so we'll never know. But one of the first times I thought I had a problem was when I couldn't remember Santa's reindeer. I mean, I thought they were like Rudolph and Dancer and Prancer and Donner and Blixen and Schlitzen and Nixon - that's as far as I got.
I always wondered how a reindeer got elected President.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Kindle collection

Well, I have committed Kindle...

I know some people think I sneeze and my stuff is published, but truth is, I get plenty of rejections like everyone else. Despite having four collections published - that's putting "Letters from Gardner" in the fiction category, the ISFDB lists it as non-fiction - I've had failure there, also. Over three years ago I pitched a reprint collection to an ebook publisher. The deal never happened - I never heard back, so I assume he wasn't interested.

I was thinking about ebooks when I realized I still had the collection, so I decided to upload it to Kindle Direction Publishing. I had never done that before, so I thought I'd give it a try.

"Bend it Like Bradbury" has 21 stories; a few have never been reprinted before. There's a certain amount of overlap with other collections, but my only other collection available through Kindle is 2009's Fantastic Texas.

Here is the Table of Contents:

Meet Me At The Grassy Knoll
Mak Siccar
The Hideaway
Won't You Come Home, Bill Buckley?
Black Hats and Blackberrys
Airy Chick
My Ugly Little Self
Twilight on the Finger Lakes
Across the Plains
Berserker
The Amerikaan Way
Silvern
Good Old Gal
Insight
Comes the JuJu Man
Double-Crossing The Styx
I Got You
Hopscotch And Hottentots
Irredenta
They Call It Time
Ghost Writer

So there, I've gone and done it. The link is here:

Friday, December 19, 2014

Not true

Something this morning reminded me that 25 years ago, in a very early version of Microsoft Word, one of the suggestions offered by the spellcheck to correct "Antonelli" was "Antichrist".

Sure glad that changed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A first

I had the idea recently to offer a signed copy of "The Clock Struck None" for sale on eBay. I put down the "Buy Me Now" price at $19.95. IT SOLD! Wow, that's found money. I need to keep this listing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Latest publication

"Ad Valorem" in Omni Reboot is my 89th short story published since June 2003. I've written 126 short stories since 2002. I don't know where I get the time.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Lou Antonelli

1. He is a first generation American; both his parents were born in Italy.

2. His mother was an eyewitness to the display of Benito Mussolini's body in Milan at the end of World War II.

3. His mother's maiden name is Savini; he is a second cousin of the famous motion picture special effects make-up artist Tom Savini.

4. He always carries a silver dollar for good luck..

5. As a result of holding elected public office, he could claim the title "Honorable". But as a result of a special appointment to a condemnation court in Dallas County in 1998 (which adjudicates eminent domain damages), he could also be called "Judge".

6. He ran for Congress when he was 25.

7. He cannot snap his fingers, apparently because of a peculiarity in the shape of his thumb.

8. He attended his first science fiction convention when he was 46 years old.

9. He met Barack Obama at Columbia University in 1983

10. That same year - a blogger asserts - a rally in protest of the Soviet downing of KAL Flight 007 that he helped organize made Obama cry in frustration.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

2014 in fiction

With the publication of "Ad Valorem" in Omni Reboot, I've had nine stories published in 2014. That's it for the year.

The stories are:

"Bindlestiff's Daughter" - The Lorelei Signal, January 2014

"Playing Catch-Up" - SciFi Max, May 2014

"The Sub-Basement" - The Ironic Fantastic No. 3, Sept. 2014

"Back Own My Stab" - Every Day Fiction, Sept. 16, 2014

"Bigfoot Fruit" - Common Oddities Speculative Fiction Sideshow, Sept. 2014

"On a Spiritual Plain" - Sci-Phi Journal No. 2 November 2014

"The Girl Who Couldn't Fly" - "Unconventional Fantasy, a Celebration of 40 Years of the World Fantasy Convention' - Nov. 6-9, 2014

"Ad Valorem" - Omni Reboot, Dec. 11, 2014

Pending publications include "Cerulean Dream" in Tales of the Talisman and "Would Olympus Fall" in the Hadley Rille Books antholgy "Ruins".

Friday, December 12, 2014

Omni Reboot



I am very proud to report Omni Reboot has published my original short story "Ad Valorem".

I didn't start writing fiction until a half dozen years after the original Omni magazine ceased publication, but I really enjoyed reading its fiction, especially in the 1980s.

I am gratified to have my name associated in some small way with such a great institution.

Omni Reboot is an webzine that, to me, seems to recreate a lot of the feel of the old print publication. Please visit, and share!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Dim mists of history

Some of you may recall that, in the process of writing my latest collection, "Letters from Gardner", I had to buy an external floppy disk drive and go back through a box of floppies because those were what I used to back up my stories back then.

Yesterday I was going through that box of floppies when I saw a disk that caught my attention. I booted it up and saw it had photos I took at ConDFW in 2003. I completely forgot I had those photos.

ConDFW was the first convention I ever attended. I didn't even know sciencxe fiction conventions even existed before that. The only reason I knew about ConDFW was that it sent out a news release and I got it at the paper where I worked at the time.

I didn't attend the con as a fan, and I wasn't an author then. I went on a press pass - which is why I took the photos.

Now, this photo here is very important to me, because this was the last panel I attended on Sunday afternoon. That's Melanie Fletcher speaking on the right; that's Jayme Blaschke in the middle. I don't recall who the fellow is on the left. It was during that panel - which I believed was on Texas s-f  - that I mentioned I had thought about writing s-f, but at 46 maybe I was too old to start. They all told me I was wrong.

Jayme was fiction editor at Revolution S-F  at the time. I asked him after the panel if I could sent him  story. He said "of course," and that was my first published story, "Silver", published in June 2003.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Zenith Royal 500

Last weekend, while visiting antique shops in Gladewater, Texas (best known among genre fans as Joe Lansdale's birthplace), I found this radio. It was made in 1956, and was the first transistor radio made by Zenith. The Royal 500 had seven transistors and no FM. I bought it for $25 (it originally sold for $75). It didn't work when I got it home, but a local electronics repair shop patched it up for only ten dollars. This week I've done what I used to do when I was a kid, tune in late at night and listen to faraway clear channel stations. I've picked them up from Denver, New Orleans, Omaha, St. Louis, Chicago, Nashville and Cincinnati

Pretty durable technology. Now, here's a question: Why does it have a name inscribed on it? Joseph N. Rogers? Was it a presentation gift some time ago? I wonder who Joseph N. Rogers was.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

After all these years

If you recall my post of Nov. 23, "A Box of Books" - one of the books I still have from that box is a collection of Harry Golden essays, "Enjoy, Enjoy". This past weekend, after 45 years, I finally damaged the book, by leaving it on a surface I didn't know had some wet spots. When I picked it up again, the cover had dried to the surface, and some of the cover tore off, although it remains mostly intact.

I know it's silly, but I feel bad.

"Science Fiction Super Pack"

Got my contributor's copies of "Fantastic Stories Presents: Science Fiction Super Pack No. 1" today. It includes my story "Hopscotch and Hottentots"
.
Stories include The Cold Calculations by Michael A. Burstein, They Twinkled like Jewels by Philip José Farmer, Lingua Franca by Carole McDonnell, Dawn of Flame by Stanley G. Weinbaum, Don’t Jump by Jamie Wild, Youth by Isaac Asimov, Digger Don’t Take No Requests by John Teehan, Lighter than You Think by Nelson Bond, Garden of Souls by M. Turville Heitz, The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick, Starwisps by Edward J. McFadden III, Gorgono and Slith by Ray Bradbury, I Was There When They Made the Video by Cynthia Ward, The Perfect Host by Theodore Sturgeon, That Universe We Both Dreamed Of by Jay O’Connell, The Lake of Light by Jack Williamson, Lies, Truth, and the Color of Faith by Gerri Leen, No Place to Hide by James Dorr, Industrial Revolution by Poul Anderson, The Visitor by Ann Wilkes, Travel Diary by Alfred Bester, Encounter in Redgunk by William R. Eakin, The Second Satellite by Edmond Hamilton, The Indecorous Rescue of Clarinda Merwin by Brenda W. Clough, Lost Paradise by C. L. Moore, Siblings by Warren Lapine, Gun for Hire by Mack Reynolds, The Answer by H. Beam Piper, Pythias by Frederik Pohl, Arm of the Law by Harry Harrison, The Good Neighbors by Edgar Pangborn, The Intruder by Emil Petaja, The Six Fingers of Time by R. A. Lafferty, An Ounce of Cure by Alan Edward Nourse, The Hoofer by Walter M. Miller, Jr., The Stellar Legion by Leigh Brackett, and Year of the Big Thaw by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Handful of Books

Saturday Patricia and I went browsing through antique shops in Gladewater (best known in spec fic circles as the birthplace of Joe Lansdale).

Gladewater has a used book store, and I left with a small armful of books for a little less than $20. My haul included:

"Golem 100" by Alfred Bester
"Absolute Magnitude" reprint anthology
"Aliens from Analog" anthology
"Two Crowns for America" by Katherine Kurtz
"The Star-Spangled Future" by Norman Spinrad
Asimov's Science Fiction No. 13, March 1979

But the prize in the bunch is the 1986 edition of Howard Waldrop's first collection, "Howard Who", published by Doubleday. It now joins the reprint published 20 years later by Small Beer Press on my bookshelf.

Judy Crider, RIP

Everyone I know in Texas spec fic circles are saddened by the death of Judy Crider on Thanksgiving Day. Judy was a gentle, polite, refined and courteous person, and a perfect mate for husband Bill. She battled non-Hodgkin Lymphoma with courage and without complaint for eight years. She was certainly one of the nicest people I met as result of my involvement in fiction writing.
I called Bill on the phone yesterday and offered my condolences. There really isn't anything to say in a situation like that except "be strong". Bill is a nice guy and a true gentleman, possessed of the same equanimity as Judy did. I know he will be OK; I also know it will always hurt.
Scott Cupp has circulated Judy's obituary, which I reprint here:
---
Judy Stutts Crider was born in Marlin, Texas, on November 5, 1943, the only child of Pet and Eldred Stutts of Thornton. She departed this life on November 27, 2014. Judy grew up in Thornton, Texas, and was salutatorian of her high school graduating class. She attended Baylor University and graduated in 1965 with a BBA in economics. Two weeks after her graduation, she married Bill Crider of Mexia. She worked as a secretary while Bill went to graduate school, first in Denton and then in Austin. Their daughter, Angela, and their son, Allen, were both born in Austin. They were truly the pride and joy of Judy’s life from the moment they entered it, and it is no exaggeration to say that she loved them even before they were born.
While living in Brownwood, Texas, where Bill was teaching at Howard Payne University, Judy learned to play the game of bridge, and it remained her favorite recreation from that time forward. She loved playing bridge with her friends in Brownwood and with her bridge groups in Alvin after the family moved there. She also enjoyed TV game shows and was a whiz at “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune.”
Judy was a full partner in Bill’s writing career. She was the first reader and editor of every book and story he wrote and was the business manager for the entire enterprise. She was his co-author on several stories, and one of them won the Anthony Award for best short story in 2002.
Judy is survived by Bill, her husband of 49 years; by her children, Angela Neary of Sonoma, California, and Allen Crider of Austin, Texas; by a number of cousins; and by a host of friends.
Her family would like to thank the doctors, staff, and volunteers at M.D. Anderson Cancer center for their professionalism and kindness during the years of Judy’s treatment. They made a terrifying experience easier to bear. According to her wishes, her body will be cremated. In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society would be appropriate. A memorial service will be announced at a later time.
---
If you would like to drop Bill a card, his address is 1606 S. Hill St., Alvin, Tx 77511.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A box of books

I grew up in Massachusetts and attended elementary and junior high school in Billerica, Massachusetts. I was a member of a Boy Scout troop there sponsored by the local congregational church. The scouts' duties included doing community service projects for the sponsoring church.
Each year the church held a large fundraising auction of donated goods. One spring day I was among the Boy Scouts who were tasked to help at the auction. We were pretty much utilized for our mindless muscle power, picking up and moving things around.

Among the heavy items being auctioned were boxes of books, and many scouts tried to avoid them. But I didn't. You see, both my parents were foreign-born and not native English speakers. I was just at that age when the possibilities and vistas of literature were becoming apparent to me.

As I helped out with the other scouts I was fascinated by all the books in all the boxes that had been donated by people. I hefted a few of the boxes myself and held them aloft as the auctioneer sought bids. However, many of these boxes held used mass-market paperbacks, which weren't really in great demand.

After one or two boxes failed to even get a minimum bid, I was holding one aloft when the auctioneer again failed to get even a dollar. As he was about to give up, I said from behind my box "I'll give you a dollar."

He turned around, a bit surprised to see where the voice had come from, but said "Okay that's good!" And yes I offered up my dollar, and took the box of paperbacks home with me.

There were many books in that box that had obviously belonged to someone who studied literature. Even at that tender age I could tell they must've fulfilled some college syllabus. There were many Penguin Classics — titles such as Booth Tarkington's "Alice Adams" and "The Golovlyov Family" by Mikhail Saltykov Shchedrin.

There were a number of other mass-market paperbacks in there, but that particular box seemed to have predominance of those Penguin Classic editions. And those particular books had a name in them, which I still remember:  Nitsa Perkins.

I took the books with me, along with some others, when my family moved to Rockland, Massachusetts, in 1970. That's where I graduated from high school in 1975. I moved to New York City and attended Columbia University for a few years. I honestly don't recall how or when or where most of the books dissipated. Between moving and a divorce in the family and the selling of the house the other travails that assail us in everyday life, I lost track of them.

Now, sitting here in middle age in the 21st-century, in deepest darkest East Texas, I think I still have two of those books that have followed me all those years — "Hawaii" by James Michener and "Enjoy, Enjoy" by Harry Golden. I was rereading the latter book and I remembered the circumstances of its purchase, and remembered the name that had graced most of the books in the box that I bought for that buck.

I don't have any of those Penguin Classics anymore, but I remembered the name Nitsa Perkins.  I looked it up on the Internet and found an address. I wrote a letter, telling the story I just told you.

Thursday I got a call from Marshfield, Massachusetts, while I was work. It was Nitsa Perskins. She is alive and well. She said she got a kick out my letter, and confirmed she had lived in Billerica in 1969 and her family was a member of the First Congregational Church.

Like my family, her family have moved to south of Boston. She has lived in Marshfield for 38 years, raised four children, and was now a widow.

We had a pleasant chat, and I told her I would send her one of my books. She asked me if I would sign it.

Friday I dropped a copy of "The Clock Struck None" in the mail to her. In the letter I enclosed with the book, I said that if I am in Massachusetts next year for my 40th high school reunion, I will try to stop by. Marshfield is only 12 miles from Rockland.

It is amazing how the things we do can send out ripples through  time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Ruins Excavation"

I'm proud to announce my short story "Would Olympus Fall" will be published next year in the Hadley Rille Books anthology, "Ruins Excavation", an anthology of Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance, Historical, and Mainstream stories with an Archaeology theme.. Editor Eric T Reynolds has listed the line-up of authors:
Sarah Frost
Vanessa MacLelland
Jamie Lackey
Tammy  A.  Branom
Micah Hyatt
M.C. Chambers
Kaolin Fire
Memory Scarlett
Rob Darnell
Jamie Lackey
Amy Herring
Ransom Noble
Micah Hyatt
Gerri Leen
Neil O’Donnell
Rebecca L. Brown
Jennifer Crow
Lou Antonelli
Rob Darnell
M. C. Chambers
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Nebula nominations

As an Active, Lifetime Active, or Associate member of SFWA you are eligible to submit a nomination ballot for the 2014 Nebula Awards. The nomination period opened on the 15th and ballots must be received by the deadline of February 15, 2015, 11:59 p.m. PST.

If you are one of my friends - and I do have a few - who belong to the SFWA, here is a list of my new short fiction published this year:

"Bindlestiff's Daughter" - The Lorelei Signal, January 2014
"Playing Catch-Up" - SciFi Max, May 2014
"The Sub-Basement" - The Ironic Fantastic No. 3, Sept. 2014
"Back Own My Stab" - Every Day Fiction, Sept. 16, 2014
"Bigfoot Fruit" - Common Oddities Speculative Fiction Sideshow Sept. 2014
"On a Spiritual Plain" - Sci-Phi Journal No. 2 November 2014
"The Girl Who Couldn't Fly" - "Unconventional Fantasy, a Celebration of 40 Years of the World Fantasy Convention' - Nov. 6-9, 2014

If you are an SFWA member who would like to recommend a story to me, please feel free to send me a message.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Unconventional Fantasy

I received the thumb drive in the mail with "Unconventional Fantasy, A Celebration of Forty Years of the World Fantasy Convention" which was given out as part of the World Fantasy Convention last weekend in Washington. D.C. It has a whopping five volumes of fiction and includes my original story "The Girl who Couldn’t Fly".

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Latest output

I've had six short stories published in the past month and a half:

"The Sub-Basement" - The Ironic Fantastic No. 3, Sept. 2014

"Back Own My Stab" - Every Day Fiction, Sept. 16, 2014

"Bigfoot Fruit" - Common Oddities Speculative Fiction Sideshow Sept. 2014

"On a Spiritual Plain" - Sci-Phi Journal No. 2 November 2014

"The Girl Who Couldn't Fly" - "Unconventional Fantasy, a Celebration of 40 Years of the World Fantasy Convention' - Nov. 6-9, 2014

That brings my total to 88 published since June 2003, seven for this year.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

My apologies

My apologies to folks who check in here regularly, but this week has been especially tiring. The election Tuesday was the main cause; being a newspaper editor, election coverage took up a lot of time and made for at least one very late night.

Also, my carpal tunnel syndrome has been really acting up. I've been waiting for it to improve somewhat, but in the meantime I am using the Dragon software for this post.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Creative Writing 101

Yesterday I had the first session of the continuing education course I'm teaching in creative writing for Northeast Texas Community College. We meet Saturdays at 2 PM in the downtown Mount Pleasant campus, which used to be the school administration building and was originally the high school.

One student had already contacted me and had an excused absence, but otherwise everyone else was there. The class a small enough that we had excellent interaction; there were lots of questions and a  lot of back and forth exchanges.

That was important because it helped the time go by quickly and gave direction to the class; I was able to get a good idea what the students want to get out of the class.

I handed out a prepared outline of the six weeks, as well as so useful handouts I think students will enjoy as reference.

The time passed quickly and I think everyone enjoyed it. At the very least they will learn something in a relatively painless manner.

I think everyone in a class has the goal of becoming a published writer of some kind, although what they envision ultimately publishing varies greatly. Some are really just into creative self-expression, others are interested in speculative fiction such as horror and fantasy. Some of them are into screenplays, others into poetry, and one student I know is ultimately looking at advice on how to write a true crime novel, in so far as a member of her family for the subject of a brutal murder 18 years ago (and the killer is finally just getting his appointment with the execution chamber in a month or so).

For my part I stood the whole time and talked on my feet, it was so interesting. Although I have participated on panels at conventions and conferences in the past, this is the first time I really did something approaching classroom instruction.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Announcing 4 Star Stories Issue 13

Whether you are a newcomer or an old friend, you will find something in this issue of 4 Star Stories to interest and entertain. Join us at 4StarStories.com.

First up is a new twist on the classic boy-meets-dragon story by Edward Ahern − Care and Feeding.

A contemporary tale of “girl saves Earth”, Speaking Up, from Brynn Macnab takes us into the mind of a little girl who just wants to be left alone.

A talented and prolific author from New Zealand, Sean Monaghan weaves a story that bends the concepts of contemporary theoretical physics in Big Catch.

Finally, expatriate Brit Jez Patterson shows us that not since “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” has the Earth been as threatened by a lowly fruit as in Squidge.

Our Bonus Story this issue is Operation Rugido Ratón by D H Richards. A tourist in Cuba is more than he seems. The military installation out in the boonies is more than it seems. Did you think the space race ended in the Sixties? Think again!

Our Guest Art for Issue 13 is an Artist Retrospective featuring the work of Jack Coggins, a space and technology illustrator from the 1950’s. Not as well known as Chesley Bonestell, but familiar to those of us who grew up in that time period, Jack Coggins uses light and shadow to dramatic effect in his depictions of space hardware and a trip to the moon.

As always, a timely Editorial from our Editors rounds out the issue, along with useful information from your humble Webmaster.

Come to visit, stay to enjoy... 4 Star Stories.com.

The Editors
4StarStories.com

_

The next issue of 4 Star Stories will fearture my short story "The Grove of Curiosities"

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bigfoot Fruit



Regarding my story "Bigfoot Fruit" which is in the current issue of the Common Oddities Speculative Fiction Sideshow - the story hinges on the fact that no native North American animal eats the fruit of the Bois D'Arc tree. Here is a good illustration of the phenomenon. I found a tree a mile from my house with all the fruit piled up around its base (these haven't been gathered up). They're sitting there where they fell, and nobody has touched them.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sci-Phi Journal available for pre-order

The cover of Issue No. 2
Issue No. 2 of Sci-Phi Journal is coming out as of Nov. 1, but you can pre-order it on Amazon. Here is the product description:

---

Sci Phi is an online science fiction and philosophy magazine. In each issue you will find stories that explore questions of life, the universe and everything and articles that delve into the deep philosophical waters of science fiction universes.

This month we have,

The start of a wonderfully Sci Phi Serial from Ben Zwycky, Beyond the Mist that was also the inspiration for our spectacular cover art. It kicks off with our protagonist falling through the mist of the title and just gets stranger from there.

We also have original Science Fiction stories from
Peter Sean Bradley - Ghosts - A tale of a future wedding gone weird
Emmanuel A. Mateo-Morales - The First Step - Witness the end of a mad dream and the end of a future war
David Hallquist - The Quantum Process - A bid for immortality that doesn't go quite as planned!
Lou Antonelli - On a Spiritual Plain - A chaplain
meets a confused soul on an alien mining colony
Steve Sagarra - Terra in Vista - A crew of explorers meet someone unexpected on a new world

Original Essays by
David Kyle Johnson - On the Moral of Hide and Q - An exploration of the ethics of being Q
John C. Wright - Prophetic & Apotropaic Science Fiction - Does Science Fiction predict the future?
Patrick S. Baker - On the Ethics of Super Soldiers - Is it right to make Super Soldiers and what do we owe them?
Tom Simon - The Making of the Fellowship - A study on the nature of the Good in Middle Earth

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mid-week update

I received back and sent out again two stories. That makes for a total of 17 in various slushpiles. Nothing original started this week so far. I already received my PayPal payment from Sci-Phi Journal, which makes it one of the fastest payers I have ever seen. Lots on integrity there.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sci-Phi Journal to publish "On a Spiritual Plain"

Signed my contract this morning for Sci-Phi Journal to publish "On a Spiritual Plain" and emailed it back to editor Jason Rennie. This is the story I started by typing in public at the GalaxyFest convention in Colorado Springs in Feb. 2013.

I did about three-quarters of it there, and finished it when I got back to Texas. I scanned the pages, ran them through optical character recognition software, and made up a Word file. After the usual editing and tweaking, I sent it off to Clarkeswold in March 2013. For some reason, it struck me as a story they would like.

They didn't take it, but it took them three weeks to reject it (if you've ever submitted to Clarkesworld, you know three days is average time for a rejection. That's the only time I received anything other than a standard rejection from them, because they said "your story was close".

So I always thought the story would find a home, and it will be published in Issue No. 2 of Sci-Phi Journal. The name indicates they like a little thoughtfulness and philosophical discussion in conjunction with their stories. Their guidelines state:

"We are looking for science fiction stories that explore a philosophical idea or have a philosophical hook. Stories must include a “food for thought” set of questions for readers along with the manuscript. Please include in your cover letter the philosophical themes explored in the story."

Which I thought would work great for "On a Spiritual Plain". Jason took the story after only a day or two, so I guess I hit the mark. And they look to be a class outfit, paying a nickel a word right from the start.

Highly recommended.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Loading up

Dropped a check in the mail yesterday to John Teehan at Merry Blacksmith Press get get copies of "Letters from Gardner". Getting ready to plan some signings and appearances.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Update on publications

The latest issue of The Common Oddities Speculative Fiction Sideshow is out, featuring my story "Bigfoot Fruit". Here is a link to the story.

The second issue of Sci-Phi Journal is in the works and my contract should be on the way soon.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Press release for "Letters from Gardner"

Oct. 11, 2014 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

“Letters from Gardner’ chronicles breaking into the writing field

WEST WARWICK, R.I. – The Merry Blacksmith Press has released "Letters from Gardner - A Writer's Odyssey", a collection that features the short stories of an aspiring writer plus correspondence from Gardner Dozois, long-time editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction.

The book covers a year-and-a-half period when Lou Antonelli was trying to break into the science fiction field. He submitted 16 stories to Dozois, who had been editor of Asimov’s since 1985, before making his first sale.

Dozois retired after accepting “A Rocket for the Republic” in 2004. The book reproduces the correspondence between the editor and author.

“I was the last person who ever went through this process with Dozois at Asimov’s, which is why I thought it needed to be chronicled,” Antonelli said.

The book also covers how the stories were edited and revised after crossing Dozois’ desk as a result of his input, also making it a writer’s manual. All except one story were later published in other venues.

Lou Antonelli subsequently has had 85 short stories and three collections published across the globe.

"Letters from Gardner - A Writer's Odyssey" contains 16 stories and is 246 pages long. It is available through Amazon or directly from the publisher, Merry Blacksmith Press, at orders@merryblacksmith.com.

#

For more information, contact John Teehan at Merry Blacksmith Press, 70 Lenox Ave., West Warwick, RI 02893; telephone (631) 903-3389.

Lou Antonelli may be contacted at www.louantonelli.blogspot.com, solacesdaddy@yahoo.com, or 903-257-6573.


Friday, October 10, 2014

"Common Oddities"

The next issue of The Common Oddities Speculative Fiction Sideshow is rolling out, and now has its page on Goodreads. It includes my short story "Bigfoot Fruit". Here is a link:

Thursday, October 09, 2014

"The Girl Who Couldn't Fly"

I'm proud and honored that my short story "The Girl who Couldn’t Fly" is included in "Unconventional Fantasy, A Celebration of Forty Years of the World Fantasy Convention".

All the members of the World Fantasy Convention will receive a copy of "Unconventional Fantasy" in their registration envelopes. I know everyone will enjoy all the wonderful stories and art work in "Unconventional Fantasy".

My thanks to Peggy Rae Sapienza and Bill Campbell with World Fantasy Con for the opportunity to participate.

I didn't get an invitation to be a panelist, but I never have for a World Fantasy con. I don't think that's exceptional, I'm really not a fantasy writer. But I was happy that, when asked, I had a story I could submit. Being a part of "Unconventional Fantasy" will perhaps expose me to some people who otherwise might not know my work.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The century mark

If you take into account that I've had 85 short stories published in the past eleven years, and I have five accepted for publication right now, that means by the end of the year - or thereabouts - I could have 90 stories published. So it looks like I'm within striking distance of 100.

Of course, I don't mind being published in small mags and ezines. I follow the policy of the late Jay Lake, who one colleague once said "would submit to anything with a pulse." Also, I've stolen a trick from Joe Lansdale, who's published tons of short stories over the years, and therefore can assemble collections very easily. With the publication of "Letters from Gardner" I now have four.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Common Oddities Speculative Fiction Sideshow

My next short story publication is "Bigfoot Fruit", being published in the autumn issue of The Common Oddities Speculative Fiction Sideshow. It will be out any day now.

Other upcoming publications include "The Girl Who Couldn't Fly", which is being included on the World Fantasy Convention giveaway thumb drive (The World Fantasy Con will be in Washington, D.C. Nov. 6-9); "Cerulean Dream" to be published in Tales of the Talisman, "Riders of the Red Shift" in Stupefying Stories, and, as I mentioned in my last post, "On a Spiritual Plain" in Sci-Phi Journal.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Sci-Phi Journal


Woke up this morning to find an acceptance in the in box; A new, quality publication, and nice rate, too, five cents a word.

It's called Sci-Phi Journal. It just published its first issue, with short fiction by John C. Wright, Joshua M. Young, David Hallquist, Frederick Best and Jane Leback, and a novellete by John C. Wright.

It also has a number of non-fiction articles. Check it out here:

Sunday, October 05, 2014

"Letters from Gardner" now available

My author's copies of "Letters from Gardner - A Writer's Odyssey" - my collection that features my short stories plus correspondence from Gardner Dozois when I was trying to break into science fiction - have arrived. Published by John Teehan and The Merry Blacksmith Press, it is 238 pages long and reprints 16 stories.

It's an interesting hybrid of a book - partly history because the way it looks back at that time near the turn of the century in the world of science fiction magazines; and partly writer's manual, as I explain what I was doing, what I was learning, and what Gardner wrote.

I also explain how I applied what Gardner wrote; all except one of the 15 stories I sent him during the period were ultimately published.

The book is also a short story collection, as I reprint those stories. In most cases, I have dredged up the original versions (I had to buy an external floppy disk drive because my backup files from that time are on floppies) and then explain the revisions that were made. In many cases, I published new endings or beginnings.

One of the reasons I did this this is that I'm the last author Gardner bought a story from before he retired from Asimov's. I was the last person who ever went through this process, and after so many years it's something I think needs to be set down in history.

Perhaps this will be a contender for the "Best Related Work" Hugo award next year in Spokane.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

"Bigfoot Fruit"

Spent some time tonight going through the proof of my short story, "Bigfoot Fruit", being published in Issue 3 of The Common Oddities Speculative Fiction Sideshow.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

FenCon

I'll be in Dallas next weekend Sept. 27-28 for the FenCon convention. Here is my schedule:

You Got SF in my Mystery!
Saturday 10:00 AM Addison Lecture Hall

Handwavium And Technobabble
Saturday 6:00 PM Pin Oak

Why Should You Join A Professional Organization?
Sunday 10:00 AM Pin Oak

Why Worldcon?
Sunday 1:00 PM Trinity I - IV

I don't have an autographing but I'll still have copies of "The Clock Struck None" if anyone wants to buy one.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Back Own My Stab"

"Back Own My Stab" in Every Day Fiction is my 85th story published since June 2003. It went live on Tuesday. There were some very nice comments:

Derek McMillan • Great story. I love the paradoxes of time travel. They are literally endless. Excuse me I have to go and give some advice for my teenage self, but will I listen? Not on your life :)

Tibor Simic • A neat old-fashioned story with a cool final sentence. I'm not a big fan of expository dialogue, especially at the beginning of a story, but here it works rather well.

terrytvgal • Original and fun. Time travel lends itself to so many possibilities and I generally always enjoy this sort of story.

Shelley Lerea • Fun, interesting story! I love time travel stories, good job, four stars!

Walter Giersbach • Lou, this is a terrific riff on the time travel trope. Especially good because it doesn't beg belief and there's a secondary theme of lust derailed for love and happiness all around.

Bud Clayman • I liked the story. I didn't connect that much with the characters as Martin was a cold fish, but the piece was clever enough to hold my attention. It had many twists and turns which made it interesting.

There was the usual slew of nastiness from people who either don't get it, or think their taste is God's mind, and the normal attacks on the author's abilities.

I have two stories pending publication in Tales of the Talisman and Stupefying Stories. I currently have 17 stories on submission is various and assorted slush piles.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

"Otherwise"

I've started a blog called Otherwise where I will be reprinting my alternate history fiction.

It kicks off with "A Rocket for the Republic", originally published in Asimov's Science Fiction in 2005.

It was the last story Gardner Dozois bought before he retired as editor of Asimov's. It placed 3rd in the Best Short Story category in the annual Asimov's Readers' Poll in 2006. It has subsequently been reprinted in "Fantastic Texas" (2009) and "Texas and Other Planets" (2010). It will also be reprinted in the upcoming "Letters from Gardner" being published by The Merry Blacksmith Press.

My goal with Otherwise is to reprint a story once a week.

Here is a link:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"Captain of the Clouds"

Sunday and Monday I banged out my latest short story, a retro-pulp dieselpunk alternate history called "Captain of the Clouds" It starts with an eleven-year old boy on a raft in the Mississippi who pulls an airship captain out of the water after he is tossed overboard when his dirigible is hijacked.

It's a cute story with a happy ending. I'll probably never be able to sell it. The major genre magazines only want stylish bullshit about how much the future's gonna suck. But I really pretty much write for myself, so who cares? I like it, and that's all that really matters. If anyone else happens to read it and also like it, that's so much gravy.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Sixteen slushpiles

Latest on the submission front: Dropped three stories in slush piles this weekend, for total of 16 total out on submission.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

"The Sub-Basement"

The Ironic Fantastic No. 3 has just been published. It has my short story "The Sub-Basement". This is actually the most recent story I've completed; I finished it the first week of June. Here's a link to a free PDF download:



I hadn't had a story published since May, but if things proceed on schedule, I may have three more stories published this month - "Bigfoot Fruit" in Common Oddities Speculative Fiction Sideshow, "Back Own My Stab" in Every Day Fiction, and "Riders of the Red Shift" in Stupefying Stories. That would mean I will have had twice as many stories published in one month as I had since the start of the year.

"The Sub-Basement" is my 84th story published since 2003.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

In the mail

I dropped a signed contract for "Cerulean Dream" in the mail to David Lee Summers of Hadrosaur Tales for its publication in the winter issue of Tales of the Talisman.

That's always a nice feeling.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Closeout Sale

I am somewhat pleasantly surprised to realize that — in both cases — the two stories that were accepted on Sunday were the last to go in their respective publications next edition. "The Sub-Basement" was the last story to go into the table of contents of The Ironic Fantastic No. 3, while Every Day Fiction issued its line-up for September right after they accepted "Back Own My Stab".

Of course Sunday was August 31, but I had no idea I would come skidding under the door twice on the same day.

With three acceptances this week I decided it's time to start replenishing my stock of stories and I got the first 1,000 words down tonight in my next short story, "Chasing Madame Booyah".

Catching up

Every Day Fiction has bought my flash "Back Own My Stab". That's three acceptances in a week, and two in one day. Earlier Sunday The Ironic Fantastic took "The Sub-Basement" for Issue No. 3. Tales of the Talisman bought "Cerulean Dream" for its winter issue on Wednesday.

I spent some time Sunday reading over submissions for a short story contest. I noted one aspiring author was guilty of "style over substance abuse".

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Busy time

Tomorrow is the first day of school here where I live; my wife's a schoolteacher. Last week things were pretty busy, especially since I had to lend some crucial elbow grease in moving some things into her classroom.

Friday was the first preseason scrimmage for the local football team, which meant we published annual back-to-school football edition. That came to a total of 30 pages. Although I'm not the sports editor, I do have responsibility of getting the Associated Press articles that were used in that section. Plus, that was just an overall big project for the production staff.

And the newspaper office — after 40 years in one location — moved this weekend to a new building.

So it's been a fairly busy time.

On the writing front,  I got a request for a rewrite from an e-zine; and that's always a positive sign.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Kansas City in 2016

Over across the Atlantic it was announced at the world science fiction convention in London that Kansas City has won the bid to host the convention in 2016. The only other city which had a bid in was Beijing. Although Beijing would've been more adventurous and glamorous, let's face it — the votes were destined to go to Kansas City for practical reasons (only registered convention attendees can vote on the site selection).

The good news for me is that I can drive to Kansas City in eight hours; last year I was able to drive to San Antonio in six hours. The convention next year is in Spokane, Washington.

My wife and I were disappointed we couldn't go to London, but a lot of things would had to of gone right. However, Spokane and Kansas City seem much more viable, at least for me.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

"Letters from Gardner"

I've been going through the revised proof copy of "Letters from Gardner" this weekend. It's been a while since I wrote the book and so I've enjoyed rereading it. It seems obvious to me I spent a lot of time thinking about this subject before actually setting it all down in print.

The manuscript is 248 pages; I found typos or mistakes on 12 of them. I suppose there are still some lurking around, but one thing I've learned over the years as that — being human — to always be a mistake or two someplace. I've always thought the key thing is to make sure a typo is not egregious enough that people can't tell what you meant.

I hope to be able to post the cover art soon. If John Teehan gets this in print before the end of the year that will mean I had two books published in one year.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Reviews of "The Clock Struck None"

There have been reviews of "The Clock Struck None" posted recently both at Amazon and Goodreads:

From Goodreads:

"A collection of 28 previously published stories, The Clock Struck None is an interesting mix of alternative and secret histories. Each story is prefaced with a short introduction that explains where it was first published and a bit about the writing of or inspiration behind the story.

While a majority of the stories take place in Texas, they vary greatly in time, subject and character. Thankfully, the point of view shifts between stories as well. Some are more successful than others, but this is something I expect in a collection of short stories. For me, some of the least successful were those involving actual historic figures. The most successful were the slightly more fantastic, those that left me thinking “hmmm.” The sixth story, “Double Exposure,” left me feeling nostalgic for fotomat booths.

"An enjoyable collection with some intriguing premises..."

From Amazon:

"The alternative history stories were inventive and interesting."

Monday, August 11, 2014

Thinking of Robin Williams tonight...

"I wish my agent Morty was here," Jimmy muttered. "He knows how to negotiate." Then he had a thought.

"Wait a minute. John and Jimmy and Gilda and Madeline - you're talking all these new kids... "

Jimmy stood up laboriously, ignoring the pain in his chest. "You bitch about your job, and you took Ernie Kovacs from us so soon? Man, come on. You couldn't have, like, taken Chevy Chase?"

Jimmy began to get that feeling, the feeling you get right when you're about to get control of the house, right when you know you're about to hold the audience in the palm of your hand. He had the room. He had it.

"What the hell was the problem? You take every-damn-body else and leave us with Chevy Chase? What, there was no more room in the van?"

The Stranger's eyes glowed with an angry glint that Jimmy somehow knew was a reflection of the Big Bang.

Then the Stranger cracked up. Laughter shook the walls of the dressing room. For one amazing moment, all the fatigue left the Stranger's face. Then he looked slightly startled.

"We might be able to sort something out, at that," he said at last. "Do you know how long it's been since anyone made me laugh?"

Jimmy grinned. "I'll bite. 'HOW-LONG- HAS-IT---' "

The Stranger cut him off. "Never."

---

From "Off the Hook" by Ed Morris and Lou Antonelli.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

"Ad Valorem"

Did a rewrite today of one of the oldest stories I've written that has never been sold. I think, from some of the topical references, it may go back almost a decade. I laid it aside years ago for some thought. Today I felt I could get my arms around it, and tackled the rewrite. Length contracted over 700 words - a good sign in my opinion. Final length is 2,888. Sent it to OMNI Reboot.

It's about a lady who cheats the tax man by impersonating her dead mother, who had her property taxes "frozen" when she turned 65. She works to fake a DNA test - with unexpected results.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

A week's silence

I didn't have a chance to post anything this past week. It was sort of unusual. Oftentimes, I can tell if a busy but difficult few days are coming up, but this week was different. An unexplained absence and a sudden illness with a couple of employees caused some real logistical difficulties. I got home late most days and tired every day. I'm looking forward to resting this weekend.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

The SASS panel

Lou Antonelli, Scott Cupp, Bill Crider and Rie Sheridan Rose
Photo by John Husisian
The panel on SASS that was held at ArmadilloCon on Saturday, July 26, was the first event of its kind. I thought I’d take a few minutes to put down a report from what I recall. I didn’t take any notes at the time, I concentrated on participating in the panel.

The convention was held at the Austin Omni Southpark Hotel; this panel was held at 5 PM Saturday in the conference center. I would estimate they were about 15 members of the audience. The panelists were Scott Cupp, Bill Crider, Rie Sheridan Rose and myself. There were two members of SASS in the audience, Stony Compton and John Husisian.

We had free copies of “Rebel Moon” graciously donated by Bruce Bethke, co-author with “Vox Day”, to hand out to all participants.

Scott was the moderator and after allowing us introduce ourselves he explained what he found especially attractive with the organization was the support and member mentorship it offers.

Panelists didn’t really want to mention any other writers groups, but the pro group SFWA was hard to avoid. Scott specifically mentioned how sometime in the past he had looked into joining the SFWA and despite mentioning his publishing credits and honors, was basically told “we’ll get back to you.” He decided after that kind of interaction he really wasn’t interested in becoming a member.

Scott’s comments brought up the topic of snobbery which was a hard subject hard to avoid in the context.
I told how I ran for an SFWA office and was attacked because in my biography I referred to my dogs as my adopted “Canine American children” and I was accused of being disrespectful to the ethnic identity movement. That got a good laugh from the audience.

I explained my motivation for helping organize the group came from my interaction with professional writers. The SFWA  is an organization really geared towards people who make a living writing, and I simply didn’t feel it’s a good fit for a semi pro like me who has a full-time job and writes on the side.

Although a qualified for full membership in the SFWA couple years ago, I really don’t get much encouragement from it. I said that rather than complaining, I went to do something about it and I helped get together a group that bridges the gap from fans and aspiring writers to pros.

I still belong to the SFWA and so do a number of SASS members; most fighters belong to different groups and get different things from them.

During the introductions, Bill Crider wondered out loud why he be put on the panel — he was the only non-SASS member. But when he understood how the group was formed, he said he “got it”.  He is involved in a group that has a similar outlook for Western genre authors, the “Western Fictioneers”, that also only started a few years ago.

Rie Sheridan Rose explained how enthused she was when she learned about the group because it does not discriminate against self-published authors.

We explained we are interested in all forms of storytelling, and that includes gaming. One member of the audience pointed out that “Rebel Moon” is based on a game. Another audience member noted that we allow horror writers as members.

The panel included a nice-wide ranging discussion on a number of practical subjects, not just specific to SASS.

Audience members asked about workshops and critiquing, and one thing I said was SASS would not be part of the crab bucket affect, which so often afflicts writers groups, where everyone pulls down each other and nobody has any success climbing out of the crab bucket.

We did talk about the recently – floated idea compiling an anthology, and that met with a lot of approval. Crider said the Western Fictioneers have done that and it has proven to be so successful they don’t  even have to charge dues any more because they are making so much money from the anthologies.

Unfortunately, because of the way I had to rush to get to the convention – I worked until 2 a.m. that morning and drove to Austin starting at 7 a.m. – I didn’t have a chance to run any SASS literature off to hand out.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The rules

I am reprinting here a document that was given to every panelist at the Armadillocon this past weekend. I really don't know what to make of all these rules. Numbers two, three and 14 make me wonder if, as an author, I'm particularly welcome. I mean, I didn't get paid anything to participate, except getting my registration comped. Why can't I indulge in a little self-promotion?

I wonder what led up to this? A lot of this is common sense, which makes you wonder about what kind of people are participating. Also, a lot of this seems reactionary.

HOW TO BE A GOOD PANELIST AT ARMADILLOCON

1. Don't come to the panel drunk or high.
2. Don't put any of your work on the table in front of you. Name tents only.
3. Don't mention your work during the panel except briefly when you introduce yourself
4. Do stay on topic.
5. Don't monopolize the panel. Let others talk.
6. Do smile.
7. Don't talk about politics. It makes people uncomfortable.   Don't make fun of people related to Texas including Rick Perry, historical figures or athletes.
8. Don't yell or argue with another panelist or audience member.
9. Don't lie.
10. Do face the audience. Don't turn your chair so other panelists are cut out of the conversation.
11. Do enunciate and speak clearly.
12. Don't talk louder than everyone else unless someone in the back is having a hard time hearing you. Indoor voice please.
13. Don't be a jerk.
14. Don't mention your work is for sale in the dealers' room or art show.
15. Do drink water or other beverages (no alcohol) during the panel to keep your voice happy. Don't eat during the panel. (Unless you are diabetic.)
16. Do watch your language. (There will be youngsters about.)
17. Don't make an intellectual panel about fart jokes.

MODERATORS
1. Ask your panelists to introduce themselves at the start.
2. Make sure panelists only have their name tent on the table with them and not a book fortress.
3. All panelists should speak. Equal time if possible.
4. Please repeat questions from the audience so everyone can hear.
5. Always leave 5-10 minutes at the end of the panel for questions.
6. Keep track of time. End five minutes before the hour. (Some panels have set up
7. Stop a panelist if they are talking too much.
8. Include a panelist if they are being ignored by the rest of the panel.
9. Stay on topic. If it is getting away from you, interrupt and bring it back to topic.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

ArmadilloCon overview

I had a great time at armadillo con despite my shortened schedule. I wasn't able to leave home until 7 AM Saturday. I missed my first panel, which was at 10 AM, but I was able to get there in time for my autographing in the dealer's room at noon. That went well – better than I would've expected considering I just arrived and no one knew I was there yet.

The panel at 2 PM on what it your early writing was like went very well and was attended. Lillian Stewart Carl was the moderator, and I was joined by Martha Wells on the panel.

I'd say the highlight of the convention for me was my reading at 3 PM. It had probably the largest turnout I've ever had for a one person reading. I think there were 10 people there — not bad for minor author. The best part was how well my reading of great white ship was received. There were actually gasps of amazement and pleasure at the conclusion. I didn't know I had it in me!

That took a half hour; I spent the second half reading hearts made of stone.

The panel on SASS at 5 PM also went well. Scott Cupp was the moderator and I was joined by Bill Crider and Rie Sheridan Rose as a panelist. This was the only panel I had at the convention that was held at the conference center rather than a function room. I probably need to write up a full report on this panel, especially for the members of SASS. it also went very well and what we had to say was very well received by the members of the audience.

My one panel on Sunday was on religion at 10 AM, moderated by CJ Mills. I was joined by  Alexis Glynn Latner, Ian McDonald and Amanda Palmer as a panelist. I was amazed at the attendance considering the time and day. That panel also went very well and I know those enjoyed by the members of the audience.

That's my broad brush overview report for now. I offer my usual disclaimer that if there's any strangeness in this post, it may be because I dictated it using Dragon software.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Two nominations

I recently learned , from when the SFWA published its rundown of nominations for the Nebulas, that my story "Hearts Made of Stone" received two.

I took a little time this past spring to encourage people to read the story, with the excuse to consider it for a nomination. My attitude was, if I was able to get anyone to read it, fine, if anyone wanted to nominate it, better. I thought it was a good story.

I received a couple of Nebula nominations for "A Rocket for the Republic" in 2006, and one for "The Witch of Waxahachie" in 2009.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ready for ArmadilloCon

Stocking up copies of "The Clock Struck None" in anticipation of the ArmadilloCon Convention in Austin next week. I will have a signing Saturday at noon in the dealers room, and also a reading at 3 p.m.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Lou Antonelli answers the Usual Questions

I have been interviewed for an Australian ezine in its feature "The Usual Questions". Here is a copy:

---

Lou Antonelli is an American science fiction and fantasy writer

Antonelli got a late start in his fiction writing career; his first story was published when he was 46 years old in June 2003.

Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work?

Yes, it's been a big encouragement to know people read and enjoy my work.

Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out?

The first s-f con I attended, in 2003 in Dallas. I had always been a reader, but I didn't attend a con until I was 46, and only after a press release crossed my desk at the newspaper where I worked. I attended the convention with a press pass. It was there I made the connection that led to my first submission and publication.

Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?

Howard Waldrop. I always liked his sense of wonder and weirdness. I was very honored when he wrote the introduction to my first collection of short stories, Fantastic Texas, in 2009. He is the only author I am compared to in my Encyclopedia of Science Fiction entry.

Who is the person you would most like to be trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship?

Howard Waldrop.

Who is the person you would most DISlike to be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship?

N.K. Jemisin

What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn't do without?)

My family. I am very much a homebody and I'd never leave them -- my wife Patricia and my three kids, who are all canines.

What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work?

To impart a sense of wonder and infinite possibilities, to make people realize that despite the large number of accidents and assholes fate foists on us, there are still wonderful people and marvelous things out there.

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

When I finish a story and it all comes together and I read it again and have a Tommy Lee Jones moment: "Damn, I'm good!"

---

Here is the link the actual page, if you like.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Next convention

Making plans now to attend the ArmadilloCon Convention in Austin July 26 and 27th. If you going to be in town that weekend, say hi!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Giving credit where credit is due

Apropos my Armadillocon schedule, I have to say I'm extraordinarily impressed with the programming — or at least how good they have been to me. After coming up with the original schedule, I had to tell them that because of changes in my work situation I can't attend Friday (I don't have any paid vacation time right now as a result of a change of ownership in the business where work).

They adjusted the schedule so that I have everything on Saturday and Sunday, and in place of one panel that is they couldn't replace they gave me an autographing – which is probably better for me.

One panel that I would have deeply missed was the one on SASS Friday evening, since I was one of the organizers of the writing group. But the programmers moved the panel to Saturday, so I will be able to participate!

I have to say I'm very impressed with their consideration.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

My ArmadilloCon schedule

I will be at ArmadilloCon in Austin Saturday and Sunday (only) July 26 and 27, but I have a pretty good schedule:

Sa1000CC I Need to Floss My Brain
Sat 10:00 AM-11:00 AM Conference Center
Eudaly*, Antonelli, Lalumière, Trimm, Weisman
Weird fiction isn't for everyone, but if you like it, here are some great stories.

Sa1200DR Autographing
Sat Noon-1:00 PM Dealers' Room
Antonelli, Benjamin, Rountree

Sa1400E Where Are They Now?
Sat 2:00 PM-3:00 PM Room E
Carl*, Antonelli, Hale, Wells
Authors read short snippets from their early, critique and discuss what they learned.

Sa1500SA Reading
Sat 3:00 PM-4:00 PM Southpark A
Antonelli

Sa1700CC SASS
Sat 5:00 PM-6:00 PM Conference Center
Cupp*, Antonelli, Crider, Sheridan Rose
The Society for the Advancement Speculative Storytelling

Su1000E Presbylutheran
Sun 10:00 AM-11:00 AM Room E
Mills*, Antonelli, Latner, McDonald, Palmer
Should books use real world religions or make them up? Effective uses of both.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

The perils of being prolific

I spent time last night and this morning finding new places to send a half-dozen stories that had been returned during the past two weeks. I currently have 19 stories in various slush piles, and two accepted and pending publication.

It's been observed more than once that someone who can write as prolifically as I do would've done well in the old pulp era so many years ago, but as it is today sometimes I really have to struggle to find potential venues for stories.

The number of people submitting to the few short story venue still exist, both in print and online, must be enormous. Some of the best venues don't do open submissions and at any given time any number of the better venues' submissions are closed.

The financial pressures on editors are such that few people can take time to cultivate and mentor writers like John Campbell or Gardner Dozois did.

Which is another reason why I suppose my forthcoming book "Letters from Gardner" may be interesting reading.

The dearth of short story markets being what it is, the logical thing to do would be to take a stab at an original novel. Thanks to this Dragon software, which I'm using right now, the prospect seems less daunting. I've always been dissuaded from writing at great length because of aggravating my carpal tunnel syndrome.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Holiday weekend

Well, this is my first weekend home since June 21 since I spent last weekend at SoonerCon. Time to get caught up on the my submissions list and perhaps start a new story.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Cut by half

At the start of the year the was the prospect that I might attend as many as eight conventions this year, but fate conspired to cut that number in half. The possibility of going to DetCon the NASFIC in Detroit and LonCon the World Con in London were eliminated when I lost my paid vacation days due to a corporate ownership change.

My plans to attend GalaxyFest in Colorado Springs and ApolloCon in Houston were thwarted because they conflicted with Con DFW in Dallas and SoonerCon in Oklahoma City.

So the only other cons I have scheduled for this year our ArmadilloCon in Austin next month and FenCon in Dallas in September. In both cases I will only be able to attend Saturday and Sunday because I have no paid vacation days for the time being.

I have already received my invite to participate in GalaxyFest next February, and have accepted. It will not conflict with ConDFW next year.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Back from Soonercon

That's me moderating the Sunday panel on "Disclaimers for Daydreamers" I'm at the far end, with (from left), Julia Mandala, Mike Kennedy and Mark Alfred.
Had a great time at SoonerCon this past weekend. Because of time constraints, I could only participate Saturday and Sunday, but I still got in six panels and a signing.

I was amazed to see almost all panelists at all the panels I was on. Attendance was excellent. My signing went well and I sold over half of my current stockpile of books.

One nice thing about this convention was that my wife Patricia came with me. It wasn't that much of an exertion being basically an overnight stay. It was pretty funny to hear more than one person greet her by saying "Oh, you DO exist!"

My wife is a fastidious dresser, which resulted in her being — to the best my knowledge — the only person at the con Saturday wearing pearls. I caught a few glances from cosplayers who obviously wondered "I wonder WHO she is?"

Friday, June 27, 2014

Off to Soonercon

I will be spending most of Saturday and Sunday at the Soonercon in Oklahoma City. Because of time and money constraints, I am leaving East Texas early Saturday morning and getting their and time for my first panel, which will be at 11 AM. I have three panels Saturday — plus book signing — and three panels Sunday. It's a pretty good schedule.

If you're in the neighborhood, stop on by.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

My SoonerCon schedule

Koffee Klatch Saturday 9:00 am
Humorous Horror Saturday 11:00 am
Fantasy and Film: The Language of Dreams Made Visible  Saturday 1:00 pm
Damsels De-Stressed: Women in Steampunk Saturday 3:00 pm
Signing Saturday 5:00 p.m.

Walt Disney 's World of Fantasy Sunday 11:00 am
Pity the Poor Immortal Sunday 1:00 pm
Disclaimers for Daydreams Sunday  3:00 pm

I will not be able to be there at all Friday, I'm driving in from East Texas that evening. (Interesting note: I will have to drive 100 miles further at attend Armadillocon in Austin in July.)

SoonerCon 23 will be June 27-29, 2014. It will be held at the Reed Conference Center in Midwest City, Oklahoma.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

"Letters from Gardner"


I received the galley proof yesterday from John Teehan at Merry Blacksmith Press of my next book "Letters from Gardner", which I've talked about in the past. I love the way John handled the typography; it makes it very clear when we're switching from the original parts of the book to the reprints of the stories that Gardner saw during the time I was submitting to him. If I recall correctly the book has about 16 chapters and is 248 pages long.

John indicates he'd like to issue this book in the fall, which means — "The Clock Struck None" having been published in February — I'd have two collections published in the same year, although "Letters from Gardner" is a bit of a hybrid.

John asked if I could get him some scans of the correspondence between Gardner and I that are featured in the book. I took some pictures and sent them to him.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

"No Body to Beat"

I spent a little time on Sunday updating my submissions list and sending back out a couple of stories. I didn't have a terribly productive week; last weekend I developed sinusitis and by Monday I had a bad cold. It was intense but of short duration, and I've pretty much recovered. It was all I could do not to take a sick day at work.

One thing I'm pleased with is that I finally came up with an ending for a story idea I've been contemplating for a few years. In "No Body to Beat",  a time traveler decides the best thing he can do for the present United States is to take down the concept of "corporate personhood". Specifically, he goes back in time and applies critical pressure in 1886, when in the case case Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific, the Chief Justice Waite of the Supreme Court orally directed the lawyers that the Fourteenth Amendment equal protection clause guarantees constitutional protections to corporations in addition to natural persons.

The problem was, I couldn't come up with a logical extrapolation. It finally came to me this weekend, so I think I will finally be able to whip this one up.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

LonCon, DetCon off

The newspaper where I work changed owners Wednesday; by Thursday I was told the new owners will not recognize accrued vacation time. It's up to the old owners to pay it out - if they can, I suppose. That's ten days I may or may not get paid for. Plus, as of my anniversary date with the company - July 31st - I would have gotten my two weeks again, but the new owners consider everyone a new hire, and no one will get vacation until June 11, 2015. So I've gone from two weeks annual paid vacation to none until a year from now, and then I get one week.

With no paid vacation time now, I notified both the folks in London and Detroit my participation is off. I still plan to go to SoonerCon, ArmadilloCon and Fencon - at the worst, I may only participate on Saturday and Sunday.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Latest story

Finished another short story, just over 2,000 words, but that's all it took. Sent to a magazine via Submittable. "It's called "The Sub-basement".

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Sidewise award finalists

The Sidewise Award judges are pleased to announce this year's nominees for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History.  The winners will be announced at Loncon 3, this year's Worldcon, in London, UK during the weekend of August 14.  The Sidewise Awards have been presented annually since 1995 to recognize excellence in alternate historical fiction. This year's panel of judges was made up of Stephen Baxter, Evelyn Leeper, Jim Rittenhouse, Stu Shiffman, Kurt Sidaway, and Steven H Silver.

Short Form

* Vylar Kaftan, “The Weight of the Sunrise” (Asimov’s, 2/13)
* Ken Liu, “A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel” (F&SF, 1/13)
* Adam Roberts, “Tollund” (The Book of the Dead, Jurassic London)
* Kristine Kathryn Rusch, “Uncertainty” (Asimov’s, 3/13)
* Harry Turtledove, “Cayos in the Stream” (Tor.com, 8/7/13)
* Ian Watson, “Blair’s War” (Asimov’s, 7/12)

Long Form

* Robert Conroy, 1920: America’s Great War (Baen)
* Mark Hodder, The Secret of Abdu el Yezdi (Pyr, Ebury)
* D. J. Taylor, The Windsor Faction (Pegasus, Chatto & Windus)
* Bryce Zabel, Surrounded by Enemies : What If Kennedy Survived Dallas? (Mill City Press)

The Sidewise Awards for Alternate History were conceived in late 1995 to honor the best allohistorical genre publications of the year. The first awards were announced in summer 1996 and honored works from 1995. The award takes its name from Murray Leinster's 1934 short story "Sidewise in Time," in which a strange storm causes portions of Earth to swap places with their analogs from other timelines.

I was honored to be a finalist last year for my story "Great White Ship" that was published in Daily Science Fiction in 2012.

I had predicted earlier in the year that Ken Liu's short story "“A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel” would be a finalist, and I was right. Hope it wins, too.

Busy time

It's been a very busy week for me, being the last week of school. My wife is a teacher, and as the local newspaper editor, I've had a ton of events to attend, including graduation Friday night.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

SoonerCon schedule

Got my schedule for SoonerCon. Looks very good.

Friday
2p - Hit or Myth Moviemaking: Mythology Onscreen
4p - Fantasy and its Mythological Roots
5p - Reading

Saturday
9a - Koffee Klatch
11a - Humorous Horror
1p - Fantasy and Film: The Language of Dreams Made Visible
3p - Damsels De-Stressed: Women In Steampunk

Sunday
11a - Walt Disney and the World of Fantasy
1p - Pity the Poor Immortal
3p - Disclaimers for Daydreams

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

In his memory

I thought the best way to honor Jay Lake's memory was to write, and so I spent Sunday finishing up a short story. It's called "the cookie crumbles" and I dropped it into the ether for its first submission Sunday.

I have a total of 18 stories circulating in various slushpiles right now.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Jay Lake is gone

According to his web site, the end has come. Jay Lake died this morning, June 1, at 5:45. Lisa and friends were with him. He will be missed but not forgotten.

I had the opportunity to meet Jay in person on March 6 of last year. I drove to Houston to have dinner with him because he was visiting the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center as part of his ongoing battle with cancer. A group gathered for an open dinner at Dimassi's Mediterranean Buffet, which is on Kirby Street close to both the hospital and Reliant Stadium.
Here's the photo from that dinner. Shown are, from left, Jim Crider, Lisa Costello, Suzan Harden, Trey Palmer, Perry Harden, John DeNardo, Jay, and Leslie Claire Walker. I took the photo, obviously

The dinner lasted about two hours. Jay apologized for being somewhat hazy because of his chemotherapy. I was a bit curdled myself after the five hour drive.

I was happy to have the opportunity to meet Jay in person, and I enjoyed the tall tales and anecdotes told around the dinner table. I everyone had a good time, and we all wished Jay the best as he fought his health battle.

It was very educational to me to actually meet Jay and hear about his background and experience. I feel I understood him a lot better.

If you want to make a contribution in Jay’s name, please make it to:
Clayton Memorial Medical Fund
c/o OSFCI
P.O. Box 5703
Portland, Oregon 97228

Saturday, May 31, 2014

In tribute to Jay Lake

Jay Lake is in hospice care now, so it's probably only a matter of time before he leaves us. Back in 2007, when I published my on-line e-zine Sentinel Science Fiction, I bought and published a short story of his. I went and found the floppy disk it is backed up on and and I'm republishing it today. I don't know that it's available anywhere else, and my feeling is that the best way to remember Jay is to read his stuff.


So here's ...


---

Fire-Heart and Rose-Lips

by Jay Lake


 They're all crazy for stories here, even my maid Fuega.  She's my best friend, too, mostly 'cause I don't really know any other princesses.  Plus we're exactly the same age.

Ever since I was twelve, His Majesty Dad has made me wear these stupid gloves -- two layers of dragonscale with a silver and copper mesh between, crafted by some one-eyed dwarven smith, half mad and all drunk.  "They'll keep you safe from cuts," he'd said.

Gee, thanks Dad.

At least I can take the gloves off in the big copper tub in the Maiden Tower, but only with Fuega watching me and one of the upstairs maids, plus the girls with the water buckets and scrub brushes.  If Momma would let him, law or no law Dad would have two guards in the room to keep an eye on me, too.

Out of the gloves, my hands always look like withered prunes!  They'd be so pretty and, well, normal, if they ever saw the air and light.  No prince is ever going to marry me.

But Fuega says I don't need a prince since I have her.  She holds me most nights, and sometimes we practice kissing, but that's all.

Everyone's always scheming about me.  One of the worst was when that little toad Palancier came to court.

"Your majesté," he said in the fake little accent that drooled through his nasty mustache.  I swear, a whole hive of fairies could live for a year on the food crusted in that man's beard.  "I have ze proposal for your daughter's perm--, eh, how you say, durable?"

Only he pronounced that word like 'Pablo' instead of 'bubble.'  You get the idea.

So, he said, "To preserve your daughter's hand for le mariage."

Then he chuckled up half a gut at his own wit.  I looked mariage up later, too.  I don't think he was using the word right.  Fat old fraud.

Well, Palancier chuckled until His Majesty Dad was laughing too, up there on the Ivory Throne, so then all the courtiers were laughing.  You'd have thought Dog Pie our court fool had found a whole new way to pretend to be a woman.  Even the silks hanging from those fire-scarred oak beams were waving down like they thought it was funny too.

"I'll chuckle him," I whispered to Fuega.

She took my hand, stroking the palm of my heavy glove with her fingers.  "Hush, Rosita.  Let's hear what the man has to say."

"In my travails," Palancier was spouting, "I have zeen ze finest work of ze smiths of Copper Downs and Chalk Hill.  Zo I propose zat we chop," and he stabbed his porky little hands down like a pair of cleavers, "ze riskmost parts at the wristmost parts..."

He paused for a laugh, but His Majesty Dad had the look Fuega called 'lightning-strikes-the-tower,' so the court wasn't even cracking a smile now.  Even the silks above us were still.

"Eh, you take my meaning," Palancier continued with much less enthusiasm.  "Zen we replace zem wit' zese beautiful, tres cher bonne, silver hands from ze uttermost East, enchanté par les ascended masters in ze prime of zeir powers!"

I rubbed my wrists, which suddenly ached something fierce through the heavy gloves.

Dad leaned forward on the Ivory Throne, one hand propping his jaw.  He had a narrow beard that year.  He fancied it made him look like an epic hero, but mostly it made him look like a giant leprechaun.  Dad had the pommel of his old sword Megrim in his other hand, holding it like a cane.

Dog Pie says Megrim was forged from one of Coalheart the Undying's claws, but then I asked how the smith had got the claw off a live dragon, and Dog Pie had just looked at me funny.  Later Fuega told me to stop acting too smart.

Anyway, I don't know where Dad pulled Megrim from all by himself up there on the throne.  A minute earlier his hands were empty.  One of those king tricks my future husband will have to learn.

God, I hate being a girl.

Once he spotted the sword, Palancier looked nervous.  Dad just kind of grinned into his fingers.  Don't-speak-until-spoken-to got tangled up with self-preservation in the fat man's mouth, and his lips flapped like a carp tossed out of the pond.

His Majesty Dad finally took mercy.  "It would seem that you are suggesting that I have my daughter's hands removed so she cannot prick her finger on a spinning wheel."

"Exactly!" shouted Palancier, forgetting his accent.

Dad tapped Megrim a couple of times on the marble dais beneath the Ivory Throne.  He tugged his beard.  He looked up at the silks.  He winked at me and Fuega, though old Palancier was in too much of a twitchy swivet to see it.

Serves the dumpling right, I thought with my best nasty.  Cut off my hands, will you?

"M'sieur Palancier," Dad said.  "Your plan has merits."

Palancier bounced as if his feet had grown springs.

"Grant me a demonstration," Dad continued.  "Have the magicians chop off your own hands and replace them with these magic silver hands.  If I am fully satisfied with their performance on your wrists, you shall have your weight in gold for performing the same service for my lovely daughter."

Palancier hustled himself out of court so fast the guards had to run to catch up in order to thrash him.

Stuff like that is funny, except it's my life.  My hands.

#

Thing about stories is, they're almost always true.  Somehow, some way.  Maybe Megrim was forged from Coalheart the Undying's claw and maybe it wasn't.  But I've seen Dad use the sword in battle outside our castle walls against the Red Magician's Horde.  Megrim called lightning from a summer sky, I swear.  So if the stories about Megrim are true, sort of, couldn't the story about the Witch of Wearyall and the spinning wheel and me someday doomed to pricking my finger be true, too?

Could it?

"Don't be a baby," Fuega laughs as she scrubs my back.  "You're scared of some old bat no one's seen for almost sixteen years."

"It ain't you that's going to sleep until the end of time," I grumble, splashing her.

"It's a story.  A fairy story."  She laughs again.  "Besides, the real message is obvious.  Even you can get it.  Come on, Rosita."

I lower myself in the tub until just my nose and lips are above water and Fuega's voice echoes through the copper plating.  It makes her into a sort of burbling ogre that I can barely understand.

Sometimes that's for the best.

She tweaks my nose, bringing me up shouting and cursing words I'm not supposed to know, only how I can live in a castle full of men with swords and not know them?  If they don't have knives and swords, men just grab themselves all day long like the stableboys -- as Fuega tells me -- so they may as well play with weapons and shout bad words.

Which makes me feel funny about watching His Majesty Dad practicing in the sparring yard with Megrim.

"Listen," Fuega hisses.  She grabs my ear, but not hard like she really means it.  "It's all cock and bull.  The witch, the blood.  They're just scared spitless of what happens when you become a woman.  Once you get your courses, they just wish you'd sleep chaste and beautiful until the perfect man comes along, kisses you awake and takes you away.  No teenage woollie-woollies for their majesties.  No fooling around with the stableboys."

I get tired of her words in my ear like a boiling kettle, so I slap her hand away.  "Stories.  Everyone loves those stupid stories too much.  I've had my courses since I was twelve.  You've seen enough of those stupid bloody cloths to prove it.  The rest is horse poop."

"Sym-bol-ism," she says primly.  That's one of Dog Pie's words, when he thinks no one's listening but us.

"Symbol this," I say.  "My sixteenth birthday is tomorrow.  I'm tired of these stupid gloves.  There's not a spinning wheel within ten leagues of the Maiden Tower.  They were all burned years ago.  Plus Dad has archers and wizards on watch for the Witch of Wearyall.  I want out.  I'm done."

Fuega glances around the room, making sure none of the other maids are too near.  "Remember the plan," she hisses.

What does she know, anyway?  She's not any older than me, but Dog Pie and the soldiers tell Fuega everything, while I just sit around with my thick gloves and try to play the harp and do needlework and stupid stuff like that.

Fuega wasn't there for sake of the Witch of Wearyall's prophecy, anymore than I was.

Well, I was there for the prophecy, actually, but you know what I mean.

#

Fuega planned like she did everything else -- life's a story, life's a game, just puzzle out the rules and figure what you have to do.  We had secret passwords and signs and countersigns, all the game stuff that anyone plays at when they're kids.

Except hers were for serious.

When we were nine, she showed me a hidden passage behind the hearth in the balneary of the Maiden Tower.

"How'd you know about this?" I asked.

"I have my ways."  She was a high-nosed snit even then.

Later, I figured out that Dog Pie had shown it to her.

Fuega wouldn't ever let me go down the passage.  "Just in case," she told me.

"In case of what?"

"I don't come back..."  Arch, conspiratorial.  She was everything I wanted to be.  Most of all, free.

"We can trust Gunther in the stables, and Red Jon, sort of, but never talk to Strawhead Steven about anything."  She glanced up from her crude map of the castle, drawn with water and fingertip on the stones beside the tub.  "Steven would lie about the time of day."

"What will we be running away from?" I finally asked one day in the west rose garden.

"Whatever comes," said Fuega.  "You're a princess.  Bad things sometimes happen."

Well, the worst was about to happen.  I was going to turn sixteen, go to my first ball as guest of honor, and wear these horrible gloves to protect me from spinning wheels that didn't exist.

If I couldn't get rid of the gloves for good, I was going to run away.

#

That night, before the party, His Majesty Dad comes into the Maiden Tower.

Now, it's death for a man to be in the Maiden Tower, so the castellan even keeps woman carpenters and stonemasons around.  Husky women with hairy lips, but Fuega gets along real well with them.  Since Dad's the law and the sword of the law in these parts, I guess if he wants to come to the Maiden Tower no one else is going to say much about it.

I'm up in my room reading Lives of the Saints, which is even less fun than you think.  Dog Pie made me learn to read.  It does help pass the evenings when Fuega is out and only the stupid upstairs maids are around fussing with my clothes.

Dad comes in and he's got Megrim with him.  I immediately think of Palancier, not to mention all the other hare-brained schemes that have come to court since I was old enough to toddle in there and listen, and get a chill ache in my wrists.

"Hey, Rosita," Dad says.  He's got a goofy smile, not an I've-come-to-cut-your-hands-off look.

"Hey."  I pretend to be real interested in St. Poikilo and the fishes.

"Tomorrow's the big day."

I wonder if ordinary girls have these stupid conversations with their parents.  I thumb the page of the book with my big heavy gloves, smearing an illustrated trout.  "Heard from the Witch of Wearyall?"

The snick of Megrim sliding from its manskin scabbard catches my complete attention.  I look up, my breath sharp and shallow, to see Dad kneeling before me with his naked sword.   He's got both hands on the blade, just past the pommel and there's already blood leaking between his fingers.

Oh, God, this is worse than that time with the Red Magician's Horde.  Where was Fuega?

"I swear," says Dad, and he's panting, "by the breath in my lungs and the blood in my veins and the steel in my hand, that the Witch of Wearyall will not harm a single, perfect hair on your head, Rosita my daughter."

Oh, crap, I think.  Story time again, and he's deep into it.

#

You know what happened the next day.  It's a tale everyone tells their children in the cradle now.  That one about the witch and spinning wheel and the beautiful sleeping princess.  Stories, nothing but stories in this world, I swear, and even where they're right they still get it wrong.

Ask yourself how Dad got hold of a claw from Coalheart the Undying.  Why everyone was so afraid of me pricking my hands.  What the roses were supposed to guard around Dad's castle.  Did the Witch of Wearyall lay a curse?

Or a blessing?

Here, I'll help.  I'll tell you a story of my own.  Once upon a time a dragon went walking in the world clothed in human skin.  He was a handsome man, and clever besides, but a chink of fear had lodged in the heart of his new body, as it does in the hearts of all men.  He prised a claw from his sleeping true form and took it with him.  Over time, that claw won him a kingdom.  The kingdom won him love.  Love won him children.

But dragons always birth in pairs, so the queen had twins.  One of them was dusky as dirt and earthy besides, with fire in her heart.  Truly the dragon's daughter.  The other was pale as a summer rose, with lips like the spring dawn, her mother's image.  Truly a woman of the world.

An old lady with Second Sight saw through the fire-heart and the rose-lips and knew which daughter would someday take wing and wreak havoc as is the nature of her kind.  She placed a blessing on the girls, sealed with a blooming hawthorn branch, promising eternal sleep to the dragon's trueblood daughter in order to save the kingdom and the dragon's earthly love.

Just like in all the stories the blessing was misunderstood and the old woman driven forth with sticks and dung and threats.  Then came the fateful day when the blessing was broken.  The fire-heart fell asleep and the rose-lips took wing and flew.

They were all looking in the wrong direction.

My sword is sharp and I have deeds to do.  If I live as long as Dog Pie promised trueblood dragons can, some day I'll go back and set fire to the thorns and free my sleeping sister.  Maybe Palancier was right.  Too bad.  When I finally caught up to him, he tasted fine, roasted on the run.

Sometimes the stories come true, no matter how crazy they sound.

No matter how crazy they are.


The time I stepped on Brian Aldiss

Word has come that the great British science fiction author Brian Aldiss has passed away at the age of 92. After such a long and distingui...