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Writers Of The Future News September 15, 2014

Posted by Tom Wells in Introductions.
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Dear Writer,

Congratulations! Your story received an Honorable Mention status for the 3rd quarter of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest.

best,

Joni Labaqui

Director

It was good news in my e-mail today. I hadn’t had a Writers of the Future honorable mention since the end of 2011. This is my first nod since David Farland took over as coordinating judge. This will be a story I need to shop to other venues now.

Wal Mart vs Macy’s August 18, 2014

Posted by Tom Wells in Introductions.
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Wal Mart vs Macy’s, where do you shop for clothes? Probably at both or if you say neither, the stores you do go to are likely to be bargains for some fashion moods and higher end for others. So why can’t we simply have the same choices in publishing and be done with the fight for supremacy?

The state of the world of publishing right now has degraded into the business of bickering. On the one side are traditional publishers who want to go on charging the same price irrespective of the delivery method. On the other side is a large online retailer who is disguising their pursuit of profit behind the veil of democratizing the publishing world. Fact is there is a place for both and no place for boycotts or letter writing campaigns. In the end it is the consumers of literature who will decide what they want. People are not going to pay premium prices for electronically delivered content and people are not going to trust bargain based electronically delivered material if there is no way to be sure if it is a bargain or a bust. In the end I trust that it will be readers that find the happy medium.

If there is a book or series of books I particularly like, I want to have a quality printed set and I am willing to pay for it. But if I want to experiment on new stories, I don’t want to have to pay premium prices to try them out. Sometimes the bargains turn out to be really good just like a buy at Wal Mart turns out to be a favorite. But if you know what you are looking for, like a favorite author who always delivers a satisfying story, you are more likely willing to pay more; just like you know you can go to Macy’s for some quality brands Wal Mart just isn’t going to have. As a simple author who wants to tell stories without the fuss of meeting marketing goals or working with agents and publisher demands, I am realistically happy to have Amazon and Smashwords available as an outlet for my works. I’d like to think that people who try my works out for the Wal Mart price are happily surprised by the bargain they get. Maybe I’ll build up a body of works and a trend of readers one day to attract the attention of a publishing house. I’d welcome the chance to have my works edited and illustrated by the pros, and if I show the promise for profit, we would both win in that case. Win win. Hopefully the publishing world will relax into this happy medium one day.

 

A Surprise From Samsung August 17, 2014

Posted by Tom Wells in Introductions.
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After a year and a half I would have thought that my laptop/tablet from Samsung was too old to mater to Samsung. I hadn’t realized the seriousness of the grumblings over my Samsung 500T keyboard performance when I bought this computer. I was drawn in by the wonderful ways is performed as a tablet. Not long after buying the computer the troubles crept up. Then I broke the original detachable keyboard and the replacement never worked right. The only practical place to use the keyboard was sitting firmly on a table, which didn’t seem too fair because if I needed to use my computer on tables only I wouldn’t need an attachable keyboard. I could just use one of many, many better working Bluetooth versions.

Still, the tablet form running on Windows 8 exceeded my expectations. Paired with an S pen it does everything I can do with a pad of paper and so much more. In tablet form, my computer has been the realization of all the things I wanted a computer to do. It goes everywhere with me in the office. I take notes, catch up on e-mails, check schedules, and I can pull up all of the cloud based documents for my construction projects. With my sketch program I can create colorful renderings and sketch my ideas while keeping an ear to the long meetings I become stranded in. I bought a Windows phone that stays perfectly synced with my tablet. Pictures I take on the phone are available for me to share through the tablet. My internet favorites sync between devices. Add a favorite to my phone and its there for me the next time I use the tablet. Hand scratched notes taken in meetings can be e-mailed to the meeting participants before we leave the room. I have many I-Pad owners asking how I keep all these things synced and the simple answer is I haven’t abandoned the Windows platform that my State business is run on. People are often genuinely amazed at what I can do with my tablet.

Then there was the BUT. A big BUT. The kind of but that haunted this unit’s stellar performance. It was the keyboard. Because it only worked when sitting perfectly flat on a table it wasn’t much use for all of the things a laptop is meant to do. No typing in my lap while watching TV. No typing on the airplane or on the go. Most of the time it was just a little annoying with the connection being broken with a mocking warning tone. Bee-boo-bee. But in the past few weeks it was worse. If I used the computer as a tablet and then plugged into the keyboard, nothing worked. Not just the keyboard itself, but the tablet. Taking it off of the keyboard was not good enough to set things right either. I would remove the tablet, but then the built in pop up onscreen touch keyboard no longer popped up on the tablet. The only remedy was to fully shut down and restart the computer. It was getting to be infuriating. I was fully out of love with the whole thing.

Then something wonderful happened. Samsung finally produced a real software fix for the unit. It was the kind of thing everyone was clamoring for a year and a half ago. Owners like me pleaded on the Samsung help sites and in product reviews and despite the claims at the time, all attempts to resolve these issues with an update failed. I really was certain that if it couldn’t be fixed then, that it was a problem Samsung was never going to be able to fix. But with my computer now going downhill fast I made one more attempt to try the latest updates. If it failed, I was reserved to having to buy a new unit and I did not look forward to that pain. So I opened the SW Update program and started the update process. At first it looked like the update program was crapped out too. It spun one of those classic twirling graphics so long I had shut down the computer thinking it was stuck again. When I restarted the computer and then the update program that twirling graphic spun on forever. I abandoned the computer for half an hour unwilling to watch it die such a slow death. But when I came back the twirling was gone and the update was ready. Again the download itself took forever. Again I worried. But after some time and several software induced restarts, the update was done.

My tablet was back to its former glory. It no longer hung up on auto-rotates. The pop-up on screen keyboard was back and working like it did before. I was mildly optimistic, so I went to the next level of testing. I added the dreaded keyboard. I was afraid that might freeze up the tablet again, but I had to try. It didn’t. I could disconnect and connect at will and everything worked. My attachable keyboard started right up when connected and the on screen pop up keyboard came back when I took the keyboard off. I was completely satisfied with the results before I realized something more remarkable was happening. Before, when the tablet was firmly locked onto the companion keyboard, the slightest jog disconnected the two. It did it with this stupid mocking tone as the keyboard communicated, then broke its connection with the tablet. Bee-boo-bee. Disconnected. Bee-boo-bee. Reconnected. It did this on the table too through my heavy fingered typing. The only way to end the mocking was to turn the volume down. But what good was that? Volume down meant no music playback while typing. What a drag that was.

After the update, there was no more bee-boo-bee. I tried turning up the volume but it was already up. What? So I typed more, and more. Not on a table, on a pillow. On my lap, on the arm of a chair. I found I could type anywhere and no bee-boo-bee. No dropped keyboard. It just works the way it was supposed to. My computer is back. Oh happy day as one of my employees says. I am thoroughly amazed. Samsung has done the unthinkable. They have not forgotten their old product. Thank you for helping me fall back in love with my device.

 

New Submission (Phew) June 29, 2014

Posted by Tom Wells in Introductions.
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It was one year ago that I had a submission worthy story for the Writers of the Future contest. That story did not place at any level. I am of course very hopeful for my latest submission uploaded today. Lets hope this new story catches the fancy of the judges.

The More Is Better Principal June 26, 2014

Posted by Tom Wells in Force of Bureaucracy, Introductions.
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Here’s the most obvious observation with a bureaucratic force. The bureaucracy itself does not care about the mission of the group which forms the bureaucracy. Therefore the bureaucracy is only satisfied with the kinds of thing a bureaucracy needs. The number one thin a bureaucracy needs is validation through growth. It is the More Is Better principal.

The most common example is in purchasing. At the end of a fiscal year there is a scramble to spend every last penny of a widget budget. Not because more widgets are needed to fulfill the mission, but because if the budget is not maximized the next year’s budget may be downsized to fit the under spending. This kind of logic only applies in a bureaucracy. It is the result of the Silo Principal (more about that in another post). The mission may not even need the widgets anymore, but the bureaucracy won’t know that for years if it is large enough.

People are nothing more than another widget in the bureaucracy. This is the most insidious example of the More Is Better Principal. In a bureaucracy, power is gained through the amount of people there are to manage because the number one function of bureaucracy is management. A system based on management can best recognize success through the increase of the people needing to be managed. Promotion comes from adding more people who are being managed, therefore it is in the bureaucracy’s best interest to add more people to manage so there can be more upward mobility for the people needing to be managed. Why? Because More Is Better.

Fb = Force of Bureaucracy June 21, 2014

Posted by Tom Wells in Force of Bureaucracy, Introductions.
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gravityWe have all been taught about the commonly known forces of nature like Frictional Force, Tension Force, Electrical Force, Magnetic Force and Gravitational Force. These are forces that exists largely unseen but constantly felt or experienced. The forces are so much a part of our lives that these things were not recognized individually and categorized as forces until relatively recently in human history. Newton didn’t discover gravity per-se but he did identify it and quantify the force so that it could be mathematically modeled and studied.

Now I believe I have identified a new force of nature. It is a force that affects all of our lives in an unseen way but we constantly feel and experience this force. There are indicators within the force that can be studied and predicted.  It exerts itself perpetually and invisible just like grpaperavity and magnetism.  I call this force the Force of Bureaucracy (Fb). This force is created when decision making and problem solving rises up beyond the individual level into growing groups of individuals who come together to make decisions and solve problems.  The force seems to grow exponentially as the numbers of individuals who are brought together to effect a single action grows. In other words, the larger the government, corporation, religious, or philanthropy group gets is the larger the Fb on that group. There becomes a time then the momentum created by the Fb becomes greater than the ability of any one person can control.

The insidious thing is that there is an illusion of control over Fb  in the same way a helicopter gives a person the illusion of control over gravity.  Being able take off from the ground feels like you have broken the bonds of gravity, when in reality there is no where you can go in the entire universe where gravity is not an influence in some way.  In governments, corporations, religious, or philanthropy groups there is no way to escape the Force of Bureaucracy as it increasingly gains a momentum of its own.  That momentum starts to force the growing endeavor to behave in ways that defies logic and can even make an organization as a whole behave in ways the individuals that belong to the organization would never want.

My writing time has been consumed by the Force of Bureaucracy for the past three years since I became a supervisor in California State Government. My energies as a writer have been drained writing reports, recommendations and justifications to feed the ever present Fb.  Recreationally, I still yearn to write creatively.  The problem is that my daily experience involves trying to invent helicopters that can rise my organization above the Force of Bureaucracy. The daily experience is material rich, but it isn’t science fiction rich.  I do have some gem ideas that could enter my science fiction writing someday, but I want to return my discipline from technical writing to creative writing. Since my mind gets focused on my daily work, I’ve decided to try creatively writing about what I experience at work and attempt to chronicle what it is that creates, influences and grows the unseen Force of Bureaucracy.  I am going to try posting some essay’s on the things I observe and maybe I can make up a Dummies for Bureaucracy kind of publication.  It’s an experiment so lets see how this goes.

Reviews January 22, 2014

Posted by Tom Wells in Introductions.
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I know good reviews draw more people to your work so asking friends and family for more good reviews is supposed to make good business sense. However, the review features at places like Amazon are very helpful and I don’t want those reviews skewed by recommendations from anyone but honest users.  That is why, for better or worse, I don’t solicit friends or family or anyone I know for reviews of the stories I self publish.

Undoubtedly that is why I don’t have many reviews, but on the flip side, they are honest reviews from people whom I have never met. So these six reviews from my story, Mother, are great to see.

 sarah: ***** MotherMother available at Smashwords.com

Very different take on artificial intelligence. Truly believable. Could be a real encyclopedia of the future :). Thanks for the imagery.

Bill: **** Mother

An exceptionally original story conceptualization well reasoned out. The story line has a few time gaps and the human interaction dialogue is not quite up to the narrative dialog, but it’s a solid four stars. Looking forward to the complete book

Ryan: **** Really great sci fi read

I picked this up for free, and honestly, I would have paid for it happily!

TOB9595: *****GREAT SCI FI story

This is a terrific read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Plot and characters are well developed. There are no spoilers in my reviews

Allison: **** the first chapter of what could prove to be a good read

This first chapter of the story sets up a very interesting scenario whereby a probe sent from Earth to look for life among the stars evolves/mutates into a sentient being as it attempts to accomplish its directive. This chapter encompasses a fair amount of time in the life of the probe and its slow transformation. It seemed the parts of the chapter dealing with the human elements of the story weren’t crafted with the same care. In any case, I’m going to splurge for the $1.99 for the rest of the story. Something different, worth the time to read.

Darkaura: **** Very intriguing, April 29, 2013

It has a slow start, but gets real good. I am interested in reading the rest of the series. Future space stories are so intriguing.

 

I’m also grateful to anyone who might have read my stories and didn’t like them but also didn’t feel the need to low-rate them too.  However if anyone who reads my stories on Amazon or the retailers like Barnes and Noble does have feedback about what can be improved in any of the stories published there, I would welcome the input.  Just e-mail me at  writtenwells@gmail.com.

And thank you again to those who liked my stories enough to give me the great reviews. writing written

How Many Computers Can One Guy Need These Days? August 15, 2013

Posted by Tom Wells in Tom's Posts.
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It struck me recently that I use five computers going about my business on an average day.

WTF?

When I graduated from college my wife and I shared one computer, a Mac LCII. Back then, most homes only had the one computer if any.  I had grown up in the day when going from a rotary dial phone to a push button phone was a big deal, so owning this computer was hi tech indeed.  Funny thing was it didn’t do all that much for us. LC2

It was never connected to the internet in all the years we owned it.  No e-mail. No Google. I just wrote some early stories and my wife did our finances on the computer but the most practical thing it did was produce the resumes that would take me from college graduate to carpenter to drafter to architect.

Our first office jobs doubled the amount of computers both of us used each day.  One shared computer at home, and one at work. Those computers did not do much more than replace the typewriter and drafting boards until 1999. The internet entered my world at the turn of the century. Slowly the internet expanded my use of the computers and my little household added a laptop computer before we added our first child to the family.Dellmini10

We kept the Mac but never connected it to the internet. The laptop was our connection to the world through our phone line. With the birth of our first child the laptop also became my video editing studio. It was no longer a fancy upgrade to the typewriter.  And the uses quickly expanded enough to justify upgrading our Mac to a new windows desktop.

That jumped me up to three computers I would use a day, especially when we upgraded the one old laptop to one new ones for each of us. We started using them at home much more and sharing was no longer an option.

The computer was finally shrunk down to something that fit in the palm of our hands and in 2011 I tried replacing my laptop, digital camera and GPS with the newest computer in my life, the smart phone. bionic-atrix-dock-2-SlashGear-580x386 The experiment to replace the laptop ultimately failed but the Smartphone quickly became the computer bridge between my work and home use.  The Smartphone for laptop experiment failed, I upgraded my old netbook to a tablet and at the same time my employer gave me another Smartphone to carry around that is encrypted so I can get company e-mails on the go.  And this is where I ended up with five freaking computers, all of which I use to stay connected.

All of this lets me get out of the office more while staying connected and seldom bored. The world of computing is leaps and bounds above my connection to computers in 1994. I won’t say it’s above my imaginations from back then. Network pads that are my imagination’s fusion of the modern tablet and Smartphone are prominent in my stories started in 1994. I welcome the computers in my life and exploit them for the conveniences I have looked forward to using from my earliest science fiction readings and writings. It is amazing though to reflect back on how much the second half of my life has been transformed by the availability of this many computers.

Computers have become the one thing from all of science fiction which lives up to what has been imagined and more. They are a real life embodiment of worlds we can still only imagine.

Europa: Bellwether to Invasion May 30, 2013

Posted by Tom Wells in Tom's Posts.
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As I look out over the vast Pacific Ocean I’m reminded of the reason that nearly every alien invasion movie or TV show gives for some warlike race crossing the vastness of space to come and pick on the likes of little old Earth.  We do have a lot of water here, just waiting for something to come and try taking it away.  Thing is, Earth is not the easiest place to get water from in our solar system.

To scale, the blue ocean of Europa is larger than the water of Earth.

To scale, the blue ocean of Europa is larger than the water of Earth.

The moon, Europa, which orbits Jupiter may be smaller than our Earth, but it is entirely covered by ice that holds a liquid ocean much deeper than the one that covers the surface of our own planet. It stands to reason then that if another race did come to our solar system in search of water, Europa would be the prime target. After all, as far as we know, Europa is not inhabited by an intelligent race with nuclear weapons.  Why go poking at that race to take water when there is a larger store of the stuff far from the reach of the species’ weapons.

If anything, we should look upon Europa as an early warning for water greedy aliens from afar.

House On The California North Coast May 29, 2013

Posted by Tom Wells in Tom's Posts.
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The view from my writing spot for the next 8 days.

I lived my first twenty years only 3 miles from the Pacific Ocean.  I have moved further away for the next two decades, but the ocean still feels like home.  I’m excited to be back for a week.

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