Friday, December 08, 2017

Slush Pile Mambo

Right now I have a dozen short stories sitting in various slushpiles awaiting decisions, and eight stories accepted and pending publication. My latest short story, completed last week, is "Cain's Knife".

Sunday, December 03, 2017

A gold digger in training

Working so many years as a small newspaper editor, I've seen many, many Letters to Santa. It's a tradition in many small towns.
A good and smart editor will read them first. Unfortunately, you'll see cases where what a child wants for Christmas is for big brother to stop smoking crack, sister to get out of jail, or mommy to stop drinking, or for daddy to stop hitting mommy. It's sad, but I've seen it many times.
The most memorable Letter to Santa I ever read, however, was a funny one. A girl began hers with a series of questions:
"Dear Santa,
"I hope you are doing well. How is Mrs. Claus?
"How is Rudolph? How are all the reindeer?
"I hope all the elves are fine."
I never saw a letter before that began with all these niceties.
"Where is this girl going with all this?" I wondered.
Then I continued reading.
"Well, anyway," she wrote. "Let's get to the point. This is what I want for Christmas..."

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Latest sale

Just inked the contract with TANSTAAFL Press for the publication of my latest short story, "A Choice of Weapons", in its upcoming anthology "Enter the Rebirth", slated for publication next year.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Hard times

Today marks the first anniversary of Patricia and I moving into our current home. Although I took my current job in January 2015, I commuted 46 miles each way until we found a beautiful old home - which we bought at an auction - until we moved in Dec. 1, 2016.

Now, living in a rural county has many advantages - low cost of living, a slower pace, friendly people, scenic view and wide open spaces.

One big disadvantage? No jobs. My wife has never been able to find a full-time job since moving here. The best she has been able to do is work occasionally as a substitute.

Her unemployment, plus my drop in income going from working at a daily paper to a weekly paper means that our household income has plummeted 77 percent since the start of 2015. The long-term effects are becoming serious. Our savings are long gone and credit cards maxed out.

I've decided to start applying for various government programs. We're eligible for food stamps from what I can tell, as well as other assistance programs. I've started the application process for whatever programs we are eligible for.

In the meantime, the electricity is slated to be turned off next Tuesday and I don't have the money right now to pay the past due balance. I hope something turns up soon.

So, not to put too fine a point on it, now would be a GREAT time to buy a signed copy of "Another Girl, Another Planet". I've got a box sitting of them here at home.

With the luck we've been having here, I'm worried I may have to burn them in the fireplace to stay warm.

Thank you.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sent off this message this morning:

"I see you sent me a Friend request. I normally don't approve requests of people I don't know personally unless we have at least 100 Friends in common. Have we met, or do we have something in common?"

This person and I only have 16 Facebook Friends in common, but I didn't dismiss it out hand because:

1. It's not a young lady;

2. This person lives in Texas, and in fact in a city I have some ties to.

But one can't too careful, can one?

Saturday, November 25, 2017


Still kinda gobsmacked over the review that said "Queens Crossing" (in "More Alternative Truths") was such a plausible alternate history they were "temporarily disoriented" after finishing it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Miss him

What with the rollout of "More Alternative Truths" at Orycon in Portland, I'm reminded of an old chum who lives there, Edward Morris. We became friends as a result of his liking my short story that was published in Asimov;s in 2005, "A Rocket for the Republic", and as a result collaborated on a number of short stories, four of which were collected up in a chapbook published by Yard Dog Press in 2011, "Music for Four Hands".

Unfortunately Ed must hang out in certain circles that were extraordinarily hostile to the Sad Puppies effort in 2015. I don't like to bring that fiasco up any more, but it still hurts that we became estranged as a result. From what I can tell, he was so severely castigated for being associated with me that he lost his ever-loving mind, as least as it applies to me.

His last comments before he signed off in 2015 made me sad, and since then he's rebuffed any olive branches. It's too bad. I hope he'd doing well. He struck me as a nice guy who's had some bad breaks in life, both in terms of experiences as well as health.

Orycon in Portland reminded me of him, and I reached out in a message and suggested he'd like "More Alternative Truths". No reply, and more blocking.

Well, as Kurt Vonnegut used to say, "So it goes."

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Lost in transatlantic translation

You probably know that the idea that Mars was inhabited came from the observations of the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiapparelli in 1877. who noted he could clearly see "canali" on the surface.
However, the Italian word was mistranslated into English as "canals" instead of "channels", leading to the assumption there was someone on Mars doing the digging.

Back in the 1970s, around this time of year, we were watching a Thanksgiving-themed movie at home in Massachusetts. The movie showed how the Pilgrims first made landfall at the tip of Cape Code - where Provincetown is today - but moved on because there wasn't a source of fresh water, and eventually landed in Plymouth.

My father, who was an Italian immigrant, opined he didn't know about the first landfall in Plymouth.
"I suppose they had to sail around and then come through the Cape Cod Canal."

I realized he made the Schiaparelli mistake backwards, and I explained to him that in English a canal is man-made. He'd lived in the U.S. for 20 years and always assumed that, from its name, the Cape Cod Canal was a natural waterway.

Just a recollection that crossed my mind with Thanksgiving coming in a week.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Latest aceptance

A few years ago, after I'd had maybe 100 or so short stories published, there was a lot of clamor from my fans for me to write a novel.

Problem was, I am so comfortable at the short story length, I just couldn't see my way to something that long.

But I knew that many novels were expanded versions of short stories or novelettes. I assumed at some point I would start a short story that could be drawn out to book length.

That happened at the start of 2015. I got into a short story and I realized I could make it out to novel-length. That became my Dragon finalist alternate history "Another Girl, Another Planet".

Earlier this year Superversive Press opened a call for a Mars-themed anthology. Shortly afterward, I happened to stumble across the start of the original story on my computer..

I finished it, and submitted it, and I'm proud to announce that it will be published in the anthology.

Anyone who's read "Another Girl, Another Planet" will understand why this short story version is called "The Girl Who Died Twice".

I know it's a little backwards now - the short story coming AFTER the novel - but I think that, in addition to it being a good story, it is interesting to see how you can tell from it how "Another Girl, Another Planet" evolved.

I'm sure you will enjoy it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thoughts in the rear view mirror

Looking back on Windycon, I think in retrospect it may have been wrong-headed to drive there. I had the time, and took advantage of it, but it was 13-14 hours either way. Now that I'm 60 such such a long drive seems harder to take.

Saturday morning at the convention I wasn't feeling very good, and I think it showed. At one point someone observed I seemed to be "peckish".

By that afternoon I was feeling pretty rundown, and I attributed it to the strain of the long drive. I was even getting a sore throat.

Rather than risk getting sick and laid up 850 miles from home, I went to bed early and left Sunday morning, skipping my last two panels. All things considered, I think it was a wise decision.

Those of you who follow me regularly know I had planned a similarly-long drive over the Labor Day weekend to Atlanta and Dragoncon that was thwarted by traffic woes plus inclement weather.

I wonder if I subconsciously wanted to make the drive to Chicago to prove I could still do such a long trip. Perhaps a little stubbornness?

Last year made a similar excursion to Chattanooga for Libertycon. Patricia came with me that time, and she vowed never again. She's a smart gal.

A 13-hour drive seems a lot longer when you're alone.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Call now!

Still have copies of "Another Girl, Another Planet" after returning from Windycon. This was my last convention of the year, so if you want a signed autographed copy you'll have to wait until next year UNLESS you just want order one from me directly.

It makes for a great holiday gift (I recently sold one expressly for that purpose). All you need is a mailing address, PayPal and $25.

Operators are standing by to take your order.

Well, not really, it's just me. But I'll still take your order!

Slush Pile Mambo

Right now I have a dozen short stories sitting in various slushpiles awaiting decisions, and eight stories accepted and pending publication...