Sunday, August 22, 2010

Aliens Better Think Twice Before They Land In My Backyard!

by Louis B. Shalako


All Rights Reserved

Ever since the late 1940’s, there have been a large number of UFO reports by individuals who appear to sincerely believe that they have witnessed alien spacecraft. (Refer to Project Blue Book, or the million UFO videos on; etc.) They're, 'firmly convinced' they've had a real experience.

Some have claimed abduction. A few photos exist which, while not exactly defying analysis, cannot be clearly proven as hoaxes.

It is not my intent to state with certainty whether or not alien spacecraft have indeed visited our lovely planet.

There is little doubt that people have, on occasion, seen lights in the sky that cannot be readily identified. And it’s true that some photos and amateur films are quite provocative.

It should be noted that what one wants to see often appears and, of course, those who are capable of taking things on faith have a predisposition to believe with little material evidence.

I myself have seen things in the night sky, which I could not immediately identify. Having a reasonably good imagination, it was enough to make my hair stand on end.

Later, I decided it was probably tundra swans, lit from below by the lights of the cty. It seemed obvious that they were traveling at 40 knots; at an altitude of maybe 1,000 feet, and not a squadron of UFO’s in echelon formation, doing 120,000 mph 90 mlles up.

Yet I can’t say for certain that they were swans either – really just pale, amorphous blobs that seemed to flicker and shimmer in their silent path o’erhead, going north in early spring.

My point is this: If in fact aliens have visited this planet and are in the process of studying our culture for scientific or other reasonable purposes, then let them do it properly. They should send an embassy to the United Nations and establish their credentials. They should reveal themselves if their purposes are legitimate and honourable. I suggest this for their own safety and convenience. (Ours, too.)

Because otherwise, as far as I'm concerned, it's war. We have the right to know who's on our planet.

Identify yourselves and your place of origin.

What is your business on this planet?

Do you have anything to declare?

Are you bringing any meats, fruits or vegetables, or exotic animals onto the planet?

How long are you staying? How much money are you carrying?

We have the right to know these things, I can assure the reader of that.

Honestly, the aliens are better off to cooperate.

Because until then, if I can’t sleep one night, get up at three a.m. and see a bunch of bleepin' aliens traipsing around in my backyard, I swear I'm gonna pop a God-damned arrow into one of them. No questions asked. They're there at their own risk. They've been studying us long enough to know better, that's what I'm saying.

One night back in 1998, when I was living in Port Franks, Ontario; I saw three lights in the southern sky, about ten degrees above the horizon. First, one appeared. Then another behind it, and then another. The group slowly spread apart, then the delta formation stabilized. The trio of bluish-white dots cruised across the night sky in a northeasterly direction, covering about sixty degrees of the sky, then silently faded out. The whole process took maybe 20 to 30 seconds.

What really ticked me off was the thought of them up there looking down at me…and laughing.

Yep. If I ever get my hands on one of them little guys (or if you prefer, 'gals.') I’m gonna throttle them.

The body of an alien could be worth billions. Then I’d really be somebody.

And it’s all nice and legal. There is no law against murdering aliens for profit, is there?

I mean let’s face it. Aliens were not created in God’s own image and obviously they have no souls to worry about. I’m just, 'a good capitalist.'

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


From the Emperor Pakal's tomb, Palenque, Mexico. (Wiki)

by Louis B. Shalako


All Rights Reserved

Guglielmo Marconi sent the first wireless trans-Atlantic signal way back on December 12, 1901. While the signal was no doubt pretty low-powered, that radio signal, encoded in Morse, is still traveling at the speed of light, out from the solar system and into the universe.

Marconi stands a pretty good chance of being the first human being to contact an alien race.

When you consider that his signal has been going along for about a hundred and ten years, an alien species may have already gotten it.
Bearing in mind the brief nature of his experiment, and the fact the Earth rotates, and the historic date and time are recorded, it must be possible to construct or model the, ‘footprint,’ of potential vectors where his radio waves may or must have gone. I visualize it as a cone, one that is ‘spinning’ with the rotation of the Earth for a brief moment.

On youtube there are about a million ‘UFO’ videos, and this means nothing in terms of ‘evidence.’ The very nature of video is that a seagull can look like a UFO under certain conditions of light, atmosphere, and other factors. Three-dimensional maneuvers captured on a two-dimensional screen can easily look ‘aerodynamically impossible’ to a witness who is uninformed about aerodynamics, and perhaps optics and the electronic reproduction of images as well.

Lights videotaped at night, (or digitally photographed,) are nothing more than lights filmed at night.

Regarding this photo (Wiki) from the Emperor Pakal’s tomb in Palenque, Mexico, Erich von Daniken, author of, ‘Chariots of the Gods,’ suggested that the figure might be in a spaceship, on a voyage to the stars. At the time I read the book, maybe at about age 14, I kind of saw what he was getting at. The power of suggestion can be strong, and young people are impressionable.

When I look at it now, I don’t see the Emperor in a spaceship.

I honestly don’t know what I’m looking at here—but I’m pretty sure it’s not a spaceship.

What I think it is; is a complex iconography, a kind of picture-language, and it probably does signify a celestial journey.

First of all, it is a question of interpretation, and secondly, it is a question of interest. Erich was interested in selling books, and popularizing ‘mysterious things,’ is actually a kind of education.

Editor's Note: This image may have been more convincing in B & W, which is how it appeared in the book to our recollection. Also, Marconi received the signal in Newfoundland, presumably an assistant actually sent it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Selling to foreign markets.

Selling to foreign markets in the midst of a recession can really help to hone your skills as a writer. As a professional, you need to learn how to do your own detective work.

I attended ‘Genrecon,’ which was held at the Sarnia Library on April 25, 2009. It was my first convention, and I learned a lot. Established authors talked about marketing, rights, selling short genre and literary fiction. Among the authors who attended; Jean Rae Baxter, Vicki Delaney, Gord Rollo, Dennis Collins, Douglas Smith, Sylvia Hutchings, and others.

We learned, “If you need to sell a quart of milk, don’t sell the whole cow, or worse, give away the whole farm.”

Gord Rollo explained it this way: “If a small, regional publication plans on publishing your story once, and perhaps archiving it on their website, what do they need the film rights for? Why would they need foreign-language rights?”

Seller beware: know what you are selling, and what they are buying. Otherwise some other person may sell your film rights, and without anything spelled out in the contract, you may have a hard time proving a case. Ignorance of the terms of your contract is not a defense, nor is it an 'out.'

And the key thing to remember is that you just never know—but TV and film producers have to get their ideas from somewhere, and they read magazines just as much as anyone else. I don’t care if they read it in the bathroom.

Aurora Award-winning author Douglas Smith talked about selling, 'reprint’ rights. Once your story has appeared and the rights have lapsed again, you can re-sell the story an unlimited number of times, although some publications don’t accept reprints, and the price or value of a reprint is less than a brand-new, first-time original story. You can also sell it at the exact same time in a hundred other languages. Recently Mike Resnick set a personal record, having sold a story thirty times. Douglas Smith also set a personal record, by selling a story on the sixty-fifth submission! His advice is, ‘Never give up on a story.”

But as he pointed out, “You can pick up an extra few hundred dollars from any given story. That adds up to real money after a while.”

Douglas has been published in twenty-four languages and in twenty-nine countries at last count. So when I learned that he had a website, with a market list, I logged on to and had a look.

Now, this is a foreign-language, reprint market, but I just wrote a few details down, went through my files, and found a small number of science-fiction stories, and started submissions by e-mail. None of these particular stories had ever appeared in English. And I began to write up every dumb little idea that I had for science-fiction, fantasy, psychological horror, or some stories which could be described as, ‘speculative fiction,’ and I suppose some stuff which defies description.

If I had an idea for a poem, I wrote it up as best I could. After a while, with a few e-mails going back and forth, I learned about other market lists. At the time of this writing I have four or five stories awaiting translation.

I have not been published as a science-fiction author in Canada, but I suppose I might as well keep trying! Sooner or later, someone around here will give me a break—I’m an internationally-renowned author after all, with a pretty good little cult following.

Now when I submit a story to a publication, I have something to put in the cover letter. I have foreign-language credits, I’ve had science fiction published, poetry, an essay; as for what’s next, I just don’t know. But I’m sure it will be something just a little bit edgy. Something out there in the badlands of the human psyche.

Something that grabs the reader, (or better yet, the editor,) by the throat and never lets them go until they’ve read my story. I want them to talk about it the next day as they’re sitting around the coffee shack wishing they were lucky enough to have time to write. Just for the record, I fell flat on my face over four hundred and eighty-plus times to get those stories out there.

Luck has nothing to do with it. Writing for foreign markets is challenging. You have to think of the foreign editors. Take out slang, contractions, colloquial expressions, folk sayings, anything that makes the translator’s job harder. What you end up with is nice, tight copy that doesn’t make your English-speaking readers work too hard, because they don’t have any time to waste either.

Only one of the stories that I’ve placed actually pays any money, but it’s something to build on. What a huge burst of self-confidence!

Other science fiction, fantasy and horror market lists include; as well as ‘The Market List,’ which I found had a few dead markets, then there’s Gareth D. Jones’ list in the U.K. For science fiction, humour and other genre markets, try for an extensive set of listings. I’ve stumbled across a couple of smaller lists as well online. The SF Site, which is Canadian, has a market list as well, and I mined through that.

One spark of inspiration hit me so far. By taking out sex, gory violence, swearing, and religious controversy, I can open up my work to a much wider potential audience. This probably applies more so to my short stories rather than the novels. Essentially I looked back and thought about all the really good books I read when I was younger. Andre Norton, Robert A. Heinlein, and Roger Zelazny, Poul Anderson, Larry Niven; these are good writers with very little of what you might call, ‘erotica,’ or language, or excessive blood and gore. When they deal with religion, they do it symbolically. They sold a lot of stories as well.

The best advice is, “Figure out who your audience is.”

My own personal perspective is interesting. I did get a contract from one publisher, and they were buying 'all rights in all languages.' It was a long contract, for five years, and an automatic renewal for three years. By coming out with new editions, they could have essentially owned that book for the rest of my life.

Think about what you are doing, before you sign any contract.

One year ago, I had never had a sci-fi story accepted anywhere, and now I've been published in English, Spanish, Dutch, Estonian, and Greek.

For that I can thank Doug's Foreign Market List, and presumably, a little effort on my part.

Good luck and good hunting.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Great Internet Rush of 2010.

by Louis B. Shalako


All Rights Reserved

It’s been pretty compelling over the last couple of weeks to see the rush of people self-publishing their works.

In some ways it reminds us of the great Oklahoma land rush of a previous century; or even the California gold rush.

What spurred this sudden flurry of self-publishing was a number of credible reports, in which commentators speculated on the future of the mainstream publishing industry. In light of the burgeoning growth of e-books, and the number and variety of new platforms, at first glance, it looks like traditional publishing may be in trouble. E-book market share is growing by leaps and bounds. At some point the business model reaches a ‘tipping-point,’ where the capitalization of further production is simply gone.

The old-fashioned model had the author submitting a work, and then the editor would send it back. The author would re-write it, and send it in again. This process would go on and on for anything up to a year and a half, maybe even longer. Nowadays, people can write something and post it later that day, on Amazon, or anywhere for that matter. They get up to a 70 % commission or royalty on their work, which is impressive compared to a more usual 10-15 %. If you have your own site, after costs, you get to keep 100 % of the money. That's pretty hard to ignore.

It is not unusual for commentators to blame the industry for its own problems, some of which may have arisen from short-sightedness, or more likely recession-based cash flow problems.

But the sight of all those people staking out their ground and making their claims is nothing if not interesting.

In the gold rushes of history, people who came in a little too late often found the ground was all staked with claims, and so they would sell eggs for four dollars each—this was back in 1849—and some of them did a lot better than the people who just dropped everything and took off on the first available ship.

Preparation is the key to success. Also, a little editing can go a long way.

For that reason, we here at Shalako Publishing would like to reassure readers that our e-books will adhere to the highest literary standards, and will conform to the currently-accepted, standard e-book format.

We will sell no wine before its time. We are in the business of creating enduring works of art.

That sort of thing absolutely cannot be rushed.