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.

Latest reviews

"It’s possible that you haven’t run into the stories of Lou Antonelli. Since 2003, he’s been publishing delightful short tales of alternate history all over the nooks and crannies of the SF world. Thanks to Fantastic Books, we now have 28 of these little gems in one place. "Many of Antonelli’s stories have an unexpected twist ending. And many of them are what he calls “secret history” stories, which aren’t exactly alternate history—they’re set in our familiar history, but there’s always some element that contemporary observers missed. " -

- Don Sakers, The Reference Library, Analog July-Aug. 2014

A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli (debut 6/11 and reviewed by Frank D). Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be. Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

- Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots

“Great White Ship”: A traveler stuck waiting for a flight strikes up a conversation with an old airline employee. The Old Timer tells him a story of a Great White Airship that arrives from a most unusual destination. The story of a craft from an alternate reality and how it got there is only the precursor to the final act. This is one of my favorite stories from this site. I have a great passion for lighter-than-air craft and their potential as a future means of transport, which opens the story. The author uses this speculation to launch into an engaging tale. As fascinating as the main story line is, the alternate history premise that accompanies it is just as worthwhile. This story was well written and very well thought out. It is well worth the read. Recommended.

- James Hanzelka, Diabolical Plots

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