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Last look at the Space Shuttle Endeavour September 21, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in News, Tom's Posts.

Today was probably the last time I will see the Space Shuttle in the air. Below is the Shuttle Endeavour as it flew past my cubicle window on its way to its permanent home in Los Angeles:

Space Shuttle Endeavor Over Sacramento CA

The shuttle created quite a commotion as it flew over Sacramento. It was a throwback to the days of old when our space program generated excitement. When you look at the full resolution version of the picture above you see people on the rooftop of the glass California Teachers Retirement building and on top of the adjacent parking garage.  All over the city people crowded on the roof tops in the same way so they could see the low fly over of this piece of space history.

The excitement this generated in sleepy Sacramento had me wondering what else NASA could do to generate excitement in the space program. Can they find a way to brighten the International Space Station to track as it crosses over in the night sky? Maybe they should be conducting parachute drops of the Orion crew capsule closer to where the people are:

 Wouldn’t this be fun to go see the Orion “tested” in an open field somewhere near your own town.  There wouldn’t be much science involved, but the Shuttle didn’t need to fly up to Sacramento and San Francisco from Edwards Air Force Base “on its way” to LA International.  The excitement and interest generated would be worth it though.

What were you doing in high school? September 12, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in News, Publications, Tom's Posts.
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What were you doing in high school? I was on the swim team, learning to navigate the awkward byways of boy vs girl relationships, and occasionally paying attention to my studies.  What I wasn’t doing was starting a story editing enterprise.  There is however a young man who has started such an endeavour.  His name is Jake Johnson and he has amassed an impressive line up of authors for his year-long project to publish a series of themed anthologies which can be found at Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jakesmonthly). Two of my short stories were in his first anthology compiled around the Science Fiction theme.  He has since collected and published anthologies each month for these other themes:  Horror, Post Apocalyptic, Science Fantasy, Punk, Bizarro, Mystery, Thriller, Alternate History, Magic Realism, and Slipstream.

All in all, it is a very impressive collection this young man has been able to put together.  His last of this year’s anthology collection project will be an anthology featuring novellas.  I was pleasantly surprised recently when he contacted me wanting to know if he could publish my story, Fall of the Faithful. After having been pulled away from my writing for months now, it was good to be remembered and I agreed to be in the anthology if his final edit still has room.  But regardless of whether I do end up in his last anthology, I am still impressed by this young man’s enthusiasm and talent for drawing together all of these works in fiction and producing a high quality collection of stories.  You should go now to check them out.

The Plan Is That There Is No Plan July 10, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in News, Tom's Posts.
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Five years ago I received a promotion at work from Associate Architect to Senior Architect.  Back then I was planning to make the move someday up to the next level in our organization as Supervising Architect.  Fresh with the feel of the promotion, I started working with the long-term plan of promotion.  I’ve been working on my interpersonal skills and my management style, working to find that sweet spot where I can do more than my job asks without having to expend wasted energy doing so. It is the traditional path of doing the job you want, not the job you have.  In the mean time, I like being an architect who works closely with my clients to build their needs.  There is a wonderful and immediate gratification to a creative outlet that is easy to like.  I’ve been very satisfied working as a Senior Architect and I haven’t been looking to that next step in our organization in the foreseeable future.  I could be happy working in this capacity right up until retirement many years from now.

This is where my writing fits in.  It is another creative outlet that I miss when I don’t carve out the time to pursue it.  Having the one job that I can do well and efficiently has given me time to do more writing.  This is the direction I have steered my ambitions towards for the next few years.  Finding satisfaction in writing has become my plan.  I have a lot of stories to tell and one main theme of the Encyclopedia of the Future to develop.  While my career in architecture was going on just fine how it was, my writing has also been advancing in a way that I was just starting to find satisfaction with. But,,,,,

Two weeks ago, just after coming  back from the vacation I have been posting about, work has dictated a new plan.  I was asked to become an Acting Supervising Architect. It is a first step towards a promotion I have thought was something that was still too far into the future to have considered in the short-term.  After all, I work for the State and normally, an overburdened bureaucratic organization like this normally clicks on in a predictable manner.  One of the cardinal rules of a huge bureaucracy is that seniority rules.  The people who have sat in the chair the longest are typically the ones on the short list for promotion.  I am middle rung in terms of seniority and there are very qualified people higher up that ladder who would ordinarily be promoted.  But these are not ordinary times in the State of California and all agencies are in a state of chaos; and chaos breeds change.  I have been advocating for smart changes in this environment and that seems to have been enough to encourage management to say, “if you want change, let it start with you.”

So I went away on vacation thinking I was going to come back recharged to finish my projects and write more of the great American novel.  I returned to a clap on the back and a reward of double the work and quadruple the responsibility.  This was not in the plan.  So for now, I have concluded that there is no plan. I have to reinvent the plan.  I am in uncharted waters.  I have the start of a novel about the first humans to leave our solar system and step out into what turns out to be a crowded galactic community.  I have a new appreciation for the scenario I have been building for the crew of the Intrepid.  I am on a journey of exploration myself, only this one is real with many people depending on my success. The first part of my new plan, stay afloat.

The Way Of The Leaving April 23, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in Introductions, News, Publications.

My novel length manuscript, The Way Of The Leaving, is here and ready for critiquing.  If you are interested, click on the PDF attachment below.  You can e-mail or message me for a copy in another format such as Kindle or E-pub.

This story starts with two familiar stories as chapters, Fall of the Faithful and Mother and both very different stories to begin with slowly come together.

      The Way of the Leaving

He Was A Rocket Mechanic April 16, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in News, Tom's Posts.

My father was a rocket mechanic during my childhood.  He had started in Florida during the Cape Canaveral years and moved to California when Vandenberg Air Force Base became the West Coast launching point for missiles and military satellites. When a grade school assignment came to interview someone who witnessed history, he told me about being on a team that experimented with launching rockets and trying to catch them with an airplane.  He wasn’t a scientist or an engineer.  He was one of the ground crew who worked to build and maintain the things that the scientists and engineers dreamed up. He was a blue-collar rocket man.

He was also a great father.  I loved the few times families were allowed on base to tour the place where he worked.  I got to stand next to real rockets with names like Titan and Thor that were ready to launch at a moment’s notice. He worked long hours on the base but when he was home he found time to be a dad to six children. He took me on camping trips through the Y-Indian Guides and he helped me to build backyard forts.  He had a mid-western charm and could make instant friends with anyone who wanted to hear his stories. 

He taught me how to work on cars and build anything I could imagine.  He was an inspiration to me in many ways, but if you ever wonder why I write about science fiction, the answer is definitely because my dad was a rocket mechanic and what little boy couldn’t help but to be impressed with that.

Delbert Perry Wells passed away on Sunday, and this little boy will miss him.


News on my latest Writer’s of the Future entry March 28, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in Introductions, News, Submissions.

Dear Entrant, 

Your story has now been judged and did not win or place in the 1st quarter.

Well, darn.  It’s a bit of a let down after having been sidetracked from writing so much lately.  It’s not the first time a story of mine has failed to place with the Writers of the Future contest, but it is the first rejection since my renewed effort at writing more began a little over a year ago.  Nothing to do but to send this one off to other markets while submitting my next entry and coming up with new stories.

The Wait For Results March 7, 2012

Posted by Tom Wells in Submissions, Tom's Posts.
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There is a trickle of results coming in on the Quarter One entries for the Writers of the Future.  For now, the only news reported is not so good news.  Many entrants are trying to read their personal results into the fact that they have or have not received news if they placed or not. 

The logical side of me asks, “Is the news either good or bad just because you haven’t read it?”  I believe it is either good or bad the moment you hit the “SUBMIT” button.  That is the point where you’re personal control over the outcome has ended.  From there, otherworldly forces will determine if the news of your results will come in the form of a polite e-mail or a phone call.  After you SUBMIT, you can no longer have an inspiration that will lift your story to the top of the others or doom your story with an ill advised edit.  From SUBMIT foreword, your news will come in whatever form it was going to come no matter what you do in the mean time.

I take “no news is no news” as equivalent to a tree falling in the woods and making a sound, no matter if someone was there to hear it or not.  You don’t know and likely can’t know if your personal news will be good or bad by the same degree from the moment you hit SUBMIT, until the moment you get your news.  So trying to glean your success from the length of time, or the number of other responses will not change your results, so until you do get your news, there is no news.

Of course the emotional side of me says that the dreams and fears will continue as long as the news has not arrived, despite how hard I try to keep a logical focus.  But isn’t that what helps separate me from the box I’m using to type this with?

A Little Welcomed Feedback December 20, 2011

Posted by Tom Wells in Introductions, Submissions.

I know it’s a tired old rant, but rejections are the rule and acceptances are the exception in the speculative fiction market.  So when I finally get a little feedback from a prospective publisher it is more appreciated than they may realize.  That’s why I like the kind reply I had recently:

Dear Tom,
Thanks for allowing us to consider “Dream Vacation”.
I found the idea of being able to experience another person’s memories via VR intriguing, and I’d be interested to see it explored in another story. Unfortunately, this particular work seemed a little too passive, and I felt it was missing a really driving conflict or a clear, urgent plot to keep the reader turning the page.
“Dream Vacation” is not quite right for us, but we hope you find a good home for it soon.
Good luck with your writing!
Best wishes, Earthbound Fiction http://www.earthboundfiction.com

I could be thinned skinned and take calling my story “too passive” the wrong way, except that story is a bit passive by design.  It is meant to be a softer story and I accept that it was not right for them.  As a piece of flash fiction, it may not find a home, but I’ll try a bit more and then post it here if no one else accepts it the way it is.

Fall of the Faithful, New Look October 31, 2011

Posted by Tom Wells in Publications, Tom's Posts.
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There is a new look for my story, Fall of the Faithful, available for download from Smashwords.com.  Just like it has been here, the story if offered for free on Smashwords.

Department of Human Preservation Agent Harold Gains had been called out to the crime scene of an apparent suicide jump from a high-rise hotel. Agent Gains had been dispatched to investigate the death of a male suspected to be a member of the secretive cult known as the Faithful.  The subject’s fall from ten stories looked like suicide, but looks can be deceiving as Agent Gains is soon to find out.

It won’t be obvious, but this story and my other offering on Smashwords, Mother, are the first two parts of a larger story called, The Way of the Leaving, which brings together characters from these stories into one larger novel that tells of how we finally invent a means to step out from our solar system into deep space.

Aim High October 23, 2011

Posted by Tom Wells in News, Submissions, Tom's Posts.
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Quick update: I have been working on two project deadlines that have kept me from writing. My last writing push was Friday, September 30th when I took a day off from work to polish up my 4th quarter entry for the Writer’s of the Future contest. Since that story has gone out, I’ve had to work weekends at my day job trying to get things ready for end of the year submittals to the Division of the State Architect (the CA building review agency for school projects). I have managed to outline some new stories and have a promising flash story in the works.

I have also submitted my 3rd quarter Honorable Mention entry to Asimov’s.  I did tweak the ending a little more to go from the open-ended one used in the contest to a more summed up ending that I think works better.  I know Asimov’s is a notoriously picky editor, but I think this story is their kind of story so I may have a shot. Anyway aim high.