Saturday, November 21, 2015

Family history

My late father asserted our family name is derived from the plural and diminutive of “Anthony”, as in Marc Antony.

The story goes that, when Julius Caesar was assassinated, Antony asked members of his personal militia to pledge to defend him. A short while later, when Antony went on the offensive against his rivals, some of the soldiers said, in effect, ‘this isn’t what we signed up for” – they wouldn’t fight fellow Romans in a civil war.

They deserted, and to escape retaliation, they literally headed for the hills, in this case the Italian region of Abruzzo. To this day, the Antonellis are known as the Italian equivalent of a bunch of hillbillies. My father used to say other Italians said the people from Abruzzo “have big shoes and funny ideas*.”

“Antonelli” means “Little Antonys” and so comes from the Romans saying “”those are Antony's little boys who ran away."

I suspect some of those deserters were also illegitimate offspring of Antony, because if I squinted I swear my father looked a bit like Marc Antony.

There's also history on my mother's side of the family, the Savinis (I'm a second cousin of the horror special effects expert Tom Savini). The Savinis are supposed to be the descendants of the Sabines - and you know that story.

* Scarpe grosse cervello fino - literally, big shoes (but) fine minds.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

On feedback

One piece of advice for aspiring writers which I have repeated in the past is that if a slush pile reader, or editor, gives you ANY feedback in a rejection, it's worthwhile. They will not take time to comment unless the story "grabbed" them to some degree.

Another point is that, if you are a good writer and have some small degree of objectivity, you will recognize when the comment is valid. Over the years there have been many times when a story comes back to me with a comment that strikes a chord.

If something bothers you or makes you uncertain in a story, and the rejection mentions the same point or problem, it's a confirmation.

Of course, some people run their stories through critique groups and have these glitches highlighted BEFORE their stories are submitted. I've lived in small rural towns all the time I've written fiction, so that option isn't available to me.

Today I got a rejection from a pro publication which illustrates my point. It said, in part:

"Your characters and the premise... are strong. However, the tale could be made more urgent if it were lived/shown for the reader a bit more, rather than relayed through dialogue."

Ah-hah! This is great feedback. You see, I write dialogue well, and now I realize that in playing to my strength as a writer I stinted my reader as a storyteller. With this insight, I can go back to the story and do a little rewriting and probably make it a lot better.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cattlecar Galactica?

Back in 1979, the Donnie and Marie Show did a number that spoofed "Battlestar Galactica" as a wagon train in space where the lost mythical planet was Texas.

I saw it at the time it was originally broadcast. I just finally found it on YouTube.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

You Heard It Here First

George R.R. Martin will be the next recipient of the Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master Award (The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award).

No, I do not have inside information, nor do I have a crystal ball. It's simply a logical conclusion, especially if you know how the literary leaders of the science fiction community think.

Regardless of the merit of Martin's literary output, he will get the award as a reward for helping trounce the dissident nominees for the Hugo awards this year (the so-called Sad Puppies). It's not really any more complicated than that.

The award will be presented at he 2016 Nebula Awards weekend, which will take place at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago the weekend of May 12-15.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Ancient artifact

Over 20 years ago I served a three-year elected term as a member of the local school board. I was rummaging through a box in storage a few days ago when I found this badge, and pulled it out. My wife had never seen it.

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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